Finishing your Wood Carvings
Finishing your Wood Carvings
There are various ways to finished and protect your carving. The right finish will help show off the carving and protect the wood for the long term.Finishing Your Wood Project
Basswood is the most popular carving wood because of it's clean white coloring, fine and even grain, and softness in cutting qualities. Unfortunately, these three assets to cutting become the bane to finishing your project. The very whiteness of the wood makes it easy to transfer pattern lines but can be very uninteresting in the finished stage. So some type of coloring agent is often used to add interest. After the coloring you will wish to add a protective layer to your project as urethane, varnish, shellac, wax, or oil finish.
I recently "re-discovered" a finish for my work that is easy and versatile. I was looking for something that was easy to apply, went over various stains, colors, and woods, and could be coated multiple times in one day. I had been reading an article on shellac in a woodworking magazine and realized I had forgotten about the properties of shellac and how to work with it. Shellac is an excellent finish for carvings that can be sanded smooth when I want a clear, silky finish.
I have been trying to teach myself woodworking to go along with my woodcarving. I built three jewelry boxes out of curly maple for the sides and a butternut panel top suitable for carving. I used double through dovetails for the joints. This type of dovetail has an eighth-inch piece of butternut in between the maple sides. This provides a nice contrast between the two woods.
Every carving project that you make will need to be protected with a final finish to preserve it over the years to come. After a final finish is applied, dust, oil, dirt or other impurities will no longer contribute to deteriorate your carving creation. There are many types and methods of wood finishes.
Sanding wood makes it smooth. Finely sanded wood pleases the eye and prepares the wood for paint or stain. The problem with intricately carved wood is that it is difficult to sand in the crevices of the decorative carving. If you sand an intricately carved piece of wood properly can help make it a beautiful piece of art.
Painting technique has to be tied in with the surface you are painting on. If your carvings utilize a lot of fine detail, and if your carving and burning techniques are similar to Jim Sprankle or Pat Godin's, then their instructional video's are excellent. Their finished carvings are so well done, the painting becomes (a large grain of salt here) almost easy. They give a LOT of thought during carving about how feathers lay over each other so that, for example, a feather "split" shows contrasting color under it from a different colored feather.
These techniques will apply to most birds. I like to do shore birds and thought I would do something different. Naturally you would start with a carved bird, species your choice. This painting technique can be applied to other than 3D birds. Prepare the bird by texturing or sanding smooth. This bird is sanded smooth with just a little detail under the wing. Very little. At this phase you have a choice to seal the wood with some type of sealer. There are many types of sealers available on the market. For this demo I didn't seal.
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