Step 1: Preparing the Log
The log is selected, harvested, cleaned and brought to the studio. Because the outside of the log was burnt in the wild land fire, it is necessary to scrape and peel the bark off prior to preparing the wood to carve.
Step 2: Making the Boards
Once the log is prepared, I cut it into boards, or planks with a chain saw. Becuase Juniper of the larger size diameters is prone to rot at its centers or on one side, you are pretty lucky to get a 5-inch thick board out of a 12-inch diameter tree. Juniper is generally oddly shaped and often twisted. This also impacts how much useable wood is available from a given log. Lastly, Juniper contains inclusions of dirt, rocks and sometimes bits of metal. I have found nails, fencing staples and other "stuff" in the wood I have worked sometimes in the center of the tree. Often this ruins a portion of the wood for carving but is interesting when you try to figure out how it got into the wood in the first place and how long it has been there.
Step 3: Planing the Board
In this step, I use an electric plane to flatten the surface of the board in order to remove the cut lines left by the chain saw. With the sides smooth, I then can take the board to the band saw and cut out individual blanks to carve.
Step 4: Cutting the Carving Blanks
The outline of the antelope are drawn on the board and cut using a band saw. These become the carving blanks for the sculpture.
Step 5: Composition of the Sculpture
Here we have the antelope roughed out and positioned on the sculpture's base. The base is a truly amazing piece of wood with lots of character of its own. To maximize the visual impact of the piece, I wanted to use base as it really has an interesting shape. I use clay to temporally hold the antelope on the base as I finalize position with-in the composition. This allows me to change the composition of the piece so it fits the base. On this piece, I originally had 5 antelope. I scaled it down to three in order to obtain the most dramatic composition in relationship to the unique base.
Step 6: The Base
When I was positioning the antelope on the base, I determined that something was missing from the composition… Sage Brush. I was originally going to attach the antelope directly to the wood base but realized it would be much more interesting if they were running through Sage Brush. I cut a blank that would become the brush and rocks. I also carved out the Mule Deer shed horn that is tucked under on of the bushes. Adding a horn to the sculpture is something I do with the majority of my work, with the exception of fish because I feel it adds to the story. I have also finished carving the antelopes horn and have covered then in an epoxy paste for additional strength. Muscle groups have been carved in and the sculpture is ready for detail finishing.
Step 7: Details
Here, the detail carving is finished. The hair is carved and glass eyes are set. The bushes and rocks are carved. I applied base color to the bushes and enhanced the white areas of the antelope. The final step was applying sanding sealer to lock these colors into the wood to ensure my base colors do not get lost when I apply the final finish.
Step 8: Finishing
Prairie Wind is complete. I decided to go with a bronze colored overall finish as the natural juniper color hid too many of the sculptures details. The overall darker colors allows the antelope to really pop out from the natural wood base. The green of the sage brush compliments the bronze color and helps accent the ground. The sculpture is mounted to a protective base and a copper name plate is attached. The entire sculpture is sealed with polyurethane.