Friday, August 27, 2010

A Ball and a Glove

Now I must say that I’m not much of a sports fan, but the next piece – yet another “oldie” – is one of my favorites.  I don’t have much to say about the carving itself.  It is about 1/4 scale, carved from Basswood (what else?) and finished with 3 or 4 coats of sanding sealer (sanded with 220 between coats) followed by a hard paste wax. I think turned out rather well, even if I do say so myself.  But I think that the story behind the carving is kind of interesting, so here goes:

I carved the Ball and Glove for my brother-in-law.  I’ll call him “B”.  “B” is sort of my opposite number.  He has always excelled in sports, basketball and Baseball in particular…me…uhhhh…not so much.  Family pressures many years ago denied him the chance to try it for real after the Pittsburgh Pirates scouted him.  Would he have made it?  We’ll never know for sure, but I think he probably had a pretty good shot at it.

Shoot ahead 35 years or so, his kids are grown and out of the house and the Pirates begin offering a Fantasy Baseball camp where for a not insignificant sum of money you can spend a week in Florida (right before spring training) and get to play real baseball under the tutelage of former Pirate players and coaches.  “B” signed up, did quite well and over the course of the next 10 or 11 years got to play in both Three Rivers Stadium (before they tore it down) and PNC Park.  He knows, and is known by, more former Pirates than anyone else I know.

Now, getting back to the carving.  The number “27” popped up many times in "B's" life.  It was part of his street address in several houses that he and my sister lived in, their zip code, phone numbers and probably some other places, too.  So it was natural that given the chance to pick the number for his uniform he chose “27”.

“But the base of the carving has a “4” on it”, you say.  OK, I’m getting to that.  After about his 3rd or 4th season at fantasy camp, “B” switched his number from “27” to “4” in honor of Ralph Kiner famous for, among other things, hitting a home run in Forbes Field that can be seen in the 1951 film, Angels in the Outfield.   

As a kid in the ‘50s, “B” spent many a happy Saturday afternoon in the bleachers of Forbes Field in Oakland (also now torn down) as a loyal member of the Knot Hole Club (remember that?).  He idealized Ralph Kiner who he still describes as “A Home Run Hitter and a positive role model for other players…and by extension “Knot Holers”, too.”

The Ball and Glove was carved for “B” for his birthday in 2005, soon after he made the number switch.

‘Til next time, keep makin’ chips!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Sun and the Moon

I’m still vamping waiting for the time that I can post a few of the specials that I have been working on.    So, I’ve been strolling down memory lane -- more specifically through my photo file -- looking for other carvings that I think that people might like to see.

Here are a couple of pieces that I did some time ago for my nearly 4-year old Grandson, Henry's, bedroom wall.

The Sun is and original design and is about 8” across.  The Man in the Moon (I’ve done a couple of these) is a little larger and is based on a picture I found out on the web someplace.  As usual, they are both carved out of Basswood.

I hope you like them and soon I’ve have some new stuff to show…I promise!

“Til next time, keep makin’ chips!

Friday, August 20, 2010

My Second Navitity Set

Here’s a second, more abbreviated, Nativity Set that I carved about three years ago for a charity auction. 

While it consists of only three figures, each is quite a bit larger its counterpart in the original set: about 9-1/2” versus 6-1/2” tall.  Otherwise, the figures are nearly identical.

In this piece, the base is actually notable.  It is turned from a piece of nearly 100 year old wormy chestnut that spent about half of its life as a shelf in the storeroom of an industrial building here in Pittsburgh.  When the building was demolished in the 1980s, my current boss rescued a couple pickup truck loads of this highly desirable wood.  And now he has made some of his stash available to me.  Thanks, John!

'Til next time, keep makin' chips

Thursday, August 19, 2010

My First Nativity Set

It's been a while since I have posted anything.  I vowed that I wouldn't do that, but things have been kind of busy here with two business trips almost back-to-back.  I *do* have a couple things that I *could* post now, but because they are gifts I can't disclose their existence yet.  But I will post them as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I have a few older things that I have yet to post.  I carved the nativity scene pictured here for my daughter and her family about 5 years ago. (The color in the overall shot is much too red.  The basswood looks much more like the individual pieces below.) I carved most of it the first year and then added a few fill-in pieces (the sheep, Ox, camel and stable) over the course of the next year or two.

All of the pieces shown are my original design.  Early on I was photographing my figures with a mirror so that you could look at two sides at once, as below.  


The manger is carved with two inset pieces, one with just the hay and one with the Babe in the hay.  That way, Baby Jesus doesn't arrive until Christmas Eve.

I hope you like it.  If you do please feel free to comment.

'Til next time, Keep makin' chips