‘Tis the season so make resolutions you have no intention of keeping. I rarely do this, rather preferring to resolve not to make any resolutions. This year however is a bit different mainly because of a few gifts that ended up under my tree this Christmas.
It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Queen Anne style of furniture. Chippendale has always been attractive as well but the ornamental carving details can be a bit intimidating. Every time I have taken the plunge into carving I have been excited to learn that it really isn’t all that hard and with the proper layout and carving tools, it can be closer to paint by numbers than the brain bender I think it is at the outset. That’s not to say all carving is this way as some of the carved in the round details, webbing, and basket weave common on the bonnet tops of secretaries is definitely more art than layout. Tony Kubalak’s new book very plainly lays out the essential elements of the more high style Queen Anne and the beginnings of the Chippendale period. American furniture never achieved the same level of detail as it’s British counterparts so Tony can cover most of the carved elements that we see in the furniture on this side of the pond. He starts with the cabriole leg which although not a carved element, it is the canvas on which so much carving occurs. He then works his way into ball and claw feet, knee carvings, fans, acanthus leaves, and Newport concave and convex shells. I’ll be honest when I say that a lot of this information can be found on the Internet in a variety of places, but the full color photos and concise instruction make this book a great addition to your library. Many times the carving step by step instructions I have found read a bit like stereo instructions and I am left guessing. I went through this recently with my ball & claw experiment. After reading Tony’s chapter on it, I can see where I made some wrong guesses and could do it much simpler and easier by following his lead. As far as I can tell this is par for the course for the rest of the book and I look forward to putting tool to wood with the rest of his projects.
This is not a book on general how to carving and I was refreshed that there was not a chapter dedicated to sharpening and tools. Tony jumps right into the projects and assumes you already know this information. This is a nice touch in my opinion.
So I resolve to work more carving into my pieces this year. As usual I will share my experiences with you all. (I think the camera automatically starts when I walk in the shop these days) And if I don’t then I can just blame it on the fact that I don’t normally make resolutions and can’t be expected to actually honor them. Here’s hoping that won’t need to be the case. Stay tuned for the next gift that is driving my carving resolution…
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