And yet more Acanthus leaves….

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, These Things Are Popular! If I couldn’t design/carve Acanthus I’d be out of work.

These are headed for a kitchen where they’ll be over a range hood and a tall cabinet. I did them in Basswood, 3/4″thick as they’ll be painted and glazed. You can see the drawing the designer sent, my sketch of at least the small piece and a general ‘in the process’ shot of the progression of some of the carving.

The general design of the kitchen where the carvings will go. This is not the same kitchen where I just recently did the Acanthus leaf legs.

One of the two smaller carvings ( 6″ X 24″)  with my sketch.

The large center carving showing half carved . I think it’s interesting to see the before and after of where a carving originates. Here it’s just a mirror image but you get the idea.

In the process of being carved you can see half of the center piece. No sanding has been done at this point. I save all that fun for last. Plus, this is just roughed in carving. Before sanding I’ll refine the surface much more that what you see here. I’d rather carve than sand and besides, a nicely carved surface could look great on it’s own without sanding,, or,, it just makes sanding that much easier when you can start with a high grit and do it just once over.

Completed small carvings. These , like the large piece become mirror images of each other.

Most carving is complete but not sanded. I still need to straighten out some lines and crisp up some others as you can see some glitches here. That drives me nuts. I wait until all roughing in is done, as it is here, then go back and finess the piece.

A side shot of the large piece.

All the pieces together. No, they won’t be arranged like this in the kitchen.

Side view. Some sanding has been done at this stage just to get a better view of the pieces and see just how well it flows. Some adjustments are still necessary. Don’t depend on sanding to salvage,, or improve a carving. It won’t. Bad lines are bad lines and sanding just makes bad lines smooth not corrected.

A closer shot of the center showing what is commonly referred to as the “Cobra Hood” where an Acanthus leaf traditionally folds over on itself appearing as a Cobras Hood.  There are several styles of doing this as well as Acanthus leaves themselves. The differences generally lay in how the leaves are terminated. All the styles are fun to carve and very versatile in so many situations. As you can see you can twist them ,turn them and make them fit into most any space to provide an interesting design. Onlays, relief, whatever,, they are just a good design element.

Acanthus Leaf Legs

Seems I’m on a roll lately with Acanthus leaves. They are traditionally a great design element to add to many types of carvings. They are well worth learning to do as they can be adapted to most any surface, can be twisted, turned, stretched and made to work in countless situations. And, they always look like something interesting is going on to catch your eye.

Here I was asked to build 4 legs in cherry that are 5 inches square and 35 inches long. I also had to make 2 in paint grade ( Basswood) that are 3 inches square. I first made up a sample block, which you can see in one of the photos in order to be sure the cuts I was about to make for the feet of the legs gave me enough stock to carve the volutes on them as well as have a pleasing dimension. Once that was done I was able to remove the waste to shape the feet. Then I made up some jigs in order to do the routing of the grooves that outline the center panels and define the volutes at the tops of the legs.  Though it’s difficult to read in the photos the center sections are actually an “ogee” shape and curve in two dimensions.

In order to have the leaves near the foot, as well as the design of Lavender flowers on the upper section of the legs I mitered half inch pieces of wood to add to this area. This allowed the leaves to stand above the surface of the legs. I also added material to the volutes themselves to give them some depth and interest.

Here you can see the lines to indicate the cuts necessary to form the cut outs for the feet/volutes

This is the sample block I made to ensure the shapes would be correct. I just used some scrap basswood to make some quick cuts,, plan the sequence and see that they would be useable.

A quick paper sketch , primarily for the customer, to see the size and shape of the Lavender flowers for the upper leg. I generally don’t use paper to transfer designs as it’s not durable for repeated tracings.  Also, this gave me the general shape to transfer to the mitered panels I added to allow this design to stand proud of the surface of the legs. A similar technique was used for the lower Acanthus leaves that sweep into the foot itself on the lower portion of the legs.

The leg on the far right is still clamped and the others are nearly finished being carved.

A side view shows just how much the Lavender flowers stand off the surface of the legs. You can also see a bit of how the center panels are curved.

By adding material to the lower leg it allowed the Acanthus leaves to also stand above the surface of the leg and carving allows them to sweep into the curve of the foot and blend nicely adding to the ‘drama’ of the shape as well.

A bit out of sequence but this shows the initial shaping after the wood was glued on to make the Acanthus leaf and getting it to blend into the sweep of the foot. I have to carve the form first before carving the actual leaf designs. Everything falls within the form itself. There is plenty of wood there as you have seen to carve a nicely shaped leaf with plenty of depth to it.

Nearly finished Lavender flowers as well as volutes with the additional wood applied to them giving them some depth and interest.

The bottom foot, leaves, volutes nearly finished but far enough along for you to see just how it will look. You’ll also notice the initial grooves that were routed in to create borders have been rounded over to create beads along the center panels.

The nearly finished foot.

I only need to finish up with a bit of carving on the volutes and then do a final overall sanding to have these completed ready for shipment.