Acanthus leaves

I just started on this project consisting of Acanthus leaves and a Medallion. Unfortunately I don’t have a step by step process but you can see the results of my efforts on this one piece.

It’s the follow up to the Medallion and Acanthus leaves post.



The starting point carving the right set of leaves. There are two which are mirror images of each other with the medallion in the center.



This is the left leaf but it shows where I started in the same scenario with the right piece. I just forged ahead with the right one and neglected to photo this part of the sequence. Sorry.



Here you can see that the very end has been brought very close to being done with just the rough in done  as I moved across the piece going right to left.



Here is the piece roughed in overall. Here you can see how I follow my credo of carving the forms before carving the details. The details fall within the forms so to me the details aren’t important. Get the piece to “flow” before trying to add details. Details in and of themselves won’t do a thing if you try to carve them too soon.









Neither of these photos show the finished piece as it will be done along with the other side in order to “unify” them. But as it sits here it is about 90 percent done.



The left and the right essentially showing beginning and ending points. The center Medallion is currently on my drafting board waiting for a piece of wood.



Backyard for Wildlife

As an aside to carving here is something else I love to do.

Back in May there was an article in our local paper about trying to get Bethlehem listed as a city for Wildlife Habitats. They needed so many homes, schools and businesses to get listed with the National Wildlife Foundation for providing habitat for wildlife.  I submitted photos of my yard and got it certified as a National Wildlife Habitat. In addition to this there was a contest for the best back yard habitat in the city of Bethlehem. Turns out I won for the “Most Artistic Wildlife Habitat” with an award ceremony on Sept. 17th.

My wife and I were quite surprised. We consider our yard an extension of our living space as long as the weather permits. Countless hours are spent there dining, reading, enjoying a glass of wine or just watching the antics of the birds at the feeders or the calming effect of the fish pond, modest as it may be. For a small yard in the middle of the city it has become as most visitors comment that it’s a “sanctuary” where everyone , human or wildlife, seem to enjoy themselves and relax for a bit.

These photos are fairly recent and therefore the yard isn’t at it’s prime as it would be during the Spring or Summer. Many of the plants and flowers are gone or cut back but you’ll get the idea.

Stepping out my back door leads to the entrance of my Studio. The mural was painted by my wife years ago and the small fountain attracts birds with the sound of water dripping as it’s a working fountain. The post in the near ground supports a Wisteria vine planted only a year ago. This spring when it bloomed the flowers hanging along  and through the pergola roof looks and smells wonderful. The back half of the ‘roof ‘ is covered with ivy. Amazing how this really creates a room effect with a living ceiling.

Instead of heading to the Studio but turning left will lead you to the side yard as this view shows. The cluster of plants on the right is a small Herb garden located close to the back door. I also enjoy Gourmet cooking and I’m constantly using these herbs in a variety of dishes. Basil, Oregano, Chives etc. really wake up and make a dish.



Standing in front of the small fountain on the patio in front of my Studio looking down to the rest of the yard. Steps off to the left lead to the deck or making a right leads you to the gravel path to the rest of the yard.



As you continue to the side yard you can follow the path along the front of my Studio finding a variety of plants and flowers or if you made an immediate left turn you’d find yourself on the covered deck.

The end of the path opens to the main area of the side yard with the deck on the left. Most of these plants I started from cuttings and some were bought in small containers. At one time most of my plants were mere twigs ankle high.

Looking back from the far end of the yard towards the deck and my Studio in the background.

A view of our outdoor living room. The ceiling of the deck is painted sky blue with clouds and also sports dimmer controlled track lights and a ceiling fan as well as built in stereo/speakers.  Along one side of the deck is a grill for cookouts.

Play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata with the lights dimmed on a summer evening while sipping a glass of wine is something I always enjoy. Also cutting into the covered deck area is a small Koi pond as well as a fish shaped fire place. Here too , light up a small fire on a fall evening and I’m a happy guy.

And of course everything you see I grew or designed and built myself.  It’s a labor of love that I don’t think will ever be done as it keeps evolving.

Angels, Done

I wrapped up the final painting and sealing this morning.  I called the client and will be delivering them this afternoon. I kept to a similar paint job that they had but naturally added my own touches. It wasn’t necessary to have them be duplicates to the originals as these are not going back to a particular setting.

The wings , now that they have the paint and gilding on them, look good by comparison I think. To the average viewer and considering the lighting as well as the distances these will be viewed  in a typical church  will for the most part look like nothing is out of the ordinary. Actually several visitors to my shop had a difficult time picking the carved wings at a close range. I’m happy.

I hope you enjoyed this project seeing it from the layout ,carving, priming and to the final painting.  Here are a few photos showing the results.







The paints are acrylics done primarily with an air brush.  The facial features and details  are done by hand. The gilding is liquid Gold and sealed. Without sealer it would eventually turn brown.

Angels update

This is only the first prime coat on the wood and wanted to show where I’m at with these pieces. When one wing was painted and the other in wood it was difficult to really pick out details. Now that everything is one color I can more readily see some details I want to carve into the wings. Actually , once they’d get painted as the originals were any differences would probably just disappear.

But I have to carve ’em the way I see ’em.Once that is done  and a couple more coats of primer I’ll post them with their final paint jobs.



Pretty close at this point.



Joints came out quite well.



The back of the wings are a good match.



You can see how the planes of the wings match the originals with the same angles, pitch etc.



Just a bit more carving here and there to address small details which are readily apparent when everything is one solid color. I’ll get them closer. Also additional paint will take away the “wood” look and make them appear as smooth as the plaster wings.


Reredos Carvings

My visit to Philadelphia went well.  An hour and a half drive one way for what amounted to 5 minutes work seemed rather silly but the meet and greet part of the job is important.

This project was just approved and I think it was important to meet the principals involved as well as see the actual church and the carvings to be duplicated.

I’m using the term Reredos as it best describes what is being built. The back wall ( behind the Altar) is currently Marble which was done around 1950 or so for the Churches 100th anniversary. Parts of that Marble are now being replaced with what was ORIGINALLY  there! Go figure. What was old , and torn out, is now new again. The sketches show the main back panel behind the altar with the Tabernacle now centrally located ( it is now off in a side room). The smaller niches will be to the left and right of the main panel which will house two statues.

I’ll be responsible for all the carving which really doesn’t amount to too much besides quantity.  There will be 4 larger Corinthian style capitals for the main section with 4 smaller ones needed for the two side niches. I’ll also be doing at least 4 fleur de lis , one large cross and possibly several tops for current spires that are missing. In addition to this there will be 96 crockets for all the spires ( the little curved pieces along the edges of the spires) all done in Oak.

Here are just a few of the photos I took for reference. The sketches are only preliminary at this point and will be refined with shop drawings.

The preliminary sketch of the main back panel. It will lay flat against the wall with  very little projection.

One of the two side niches that will house statues on the left and right of the main panel.

Currently in the Church is this Confessional which has the Architectural elements that will be copied for the new Reredos and side Niches.

A rather peculiar stylized version of a Corinthian type capital that will be used on the new Reredos and side niches. It’s not Doric, nor Ionic,, so I’m calling it Corinthian in style.

An example of one of the Spire tops that need to be copied to replace several that are missing in the church. Elements from this piece will be used to design the main cross on the Reredos. You can see them in place in the photo of the existing Confessional.

An example of one of the 96 Crockets ( little leaf designs on the edges of the Spires) that will need to be carved.

One of the side niches where some of the red Marble will be removed to accommodate the new wood work. The main section is similar to this layout and it too will require Marble being removed to make room for the new Reredos.

It will take several weeks from this point to begin actual work as another company  out of Philadelphia is doing the main case work. Until they have some blocks prepped for me to carve ( I may make my own to my specs) as well as providing me with scaled drawings to go by I can wrap up some other projects.  Nothing like Architectural carvings to keep you busy,,, and in business. What they may lack in variety ( though I find this interesting) they usually make up for in volume. I can live with that!