Wood Carving

ASSIGNMENT 2: Subtractive Process: Distilling Form


John Leon

This assignment is an exercise in distilling and capturing the essence of an organic form/object. The project will begin by choosing a wood fragment and sketching a design of what you hope to achieve by carving. You will also draw on the wood itself marking roughly where material will be cut away/subtracted. Then using a combination of hand tools; chisels and knives, and machine tools; band saw, sanders, grinders and drill, material will be carved away to reveal new form.

Remember to develop the sculptural form from all sides, step by step. Do not try to “finish” one side first and then another. You must have at least one hole in the final sculptural form. Once removed, material may not be later added back. However, you may choose to create multiple individual pieces which may create a grouping.

In this assignment, you are not trying to create a “thing” like a person, animal, etc. Instead you are trying to create organic form. This is an abstract quality that we observe about the way things grow. It is not geometric or mechanical in nature. For example, look closely at roots of plants or trees,  at the sculptural form of bones. You are not necessarily trying to create a bone, but you are trying to create a sculpture that twists, turns or “behaves” as a bone might.

In the final step, you will be continuing the subtractive/reductive method to carve fine details or texture as is applicable to your design. After carving, you will further develop the visual content of your sculpture by sanding and smoothing the exterior. Finally, the wood may be painted, oiled, waxed or otherwise sealed as a finishing step.

Some Major Artists working in this manner: