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Sunday, December 27, 2015

Fiona’s Flamingo hand-painted wooden wall art

I always endeavour to make a handcrafted gift for my wife Fiona for Christmas and this year I opted for a flamingo, a bird which she is fond of. Discovering an old and rather naive version of one set against the sea, I was taken by the idea of putting our local landmark Herne Bay pier head on the horizon. The engraving flamingo had a rather woeful-looking neck, so I gave it a more graceful curve, which also a better fit to my tall format and I was not giving much attention to reality, so this bird has an exaggerated neck.
My inspiration, an old coloured engraving, showing my grid and adapted neck to fit a taller format.
The oldest draughting trick there is: drawing a grid to translate the image  onto a larger format.
As long as your grid’s reliable, you can draw any squares in (note mine are numbered like a Battleships game) so you can re-visit undrawn areas...

Ensuring that the width of the neck is graceful and ‘S’-like.

Tracing the 2nd side before rubbing down
Positioning the trace down. To make this easier, the trace matches the size of the plank of wood
The trace taped on to transfer down
The darker line shows where the trace is complete. Sometimes a contrasty colour, like a red biro works well for this.

I liked the original caption, so traced that down too

A bottle of local craft beer helps burn the midnight candle!

Base colour for the pink in light acrylic
Blending in a rose madder pink
Base colour complete (note top of plank is yet to be trimmed off square, but acts as a useful trial area for colours

Loosely dashing in lighter ling leg segments

Loose is my style, so adding the sea in sketchy curls
Coming together
Prior to the ‘staining’, the colours looked a tad brash...
Adding an engraving-style scratch pen line in black ‘tightens up’ the image
Looking good with the caption hand-drawn in ink, prior to putting the coffee on!
Yes, really using my favourite black espresso coffee to add a sepia-coloured patina
A petit gris brush lays down the coffee
Head close-up showing the still-wet coffee lying on top of the original whitewash base

Local icon ‘Herne Bay pier head’
After staining, I bevelled the edges with a plane (sides) and surform (ends)
The final piece.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The art of scrimshaw - Mollyjogger’s penknife vII

A quick sketched outline for size 
This is what I had in mind but this side turned out a bit more ‘freeform’
Adding a fish (the fun bit)

The kit comes with carbon paper - use silver side up

Taping the trace over the carbon
A complete fish drawn but I like to ‘hoof it’ a bit, so just transposed a simple outline
This was enough for me to work on, just the body shape
Once the main fish lines were incised, it was easy to add more ink using the cotton buds
The ink is progressively wiped away using the wire wool from the kit
The final fish, complete with fly line and fly

1/2 dram of ink, ink swab and incising tool. As you can see, I deviated from my original design for this side, making things up as I went after all. 
A piece to treasure and none like it in the world!

Okay, the dorsal fin’s too long and carp-like, but it looks great
Further to a previous post where I tried my hand at the ancient mariner’s art of scrimshaw (incising into whale’s teeth/animal bone), for my son Jack, (‘Trapper’ knife), I loved the final result so much I recently made one for myself. This particular model of penknife, a ‘Barlow’ is also from and made in the States by Bear & Son. The quality is fabulous, heavy in the hand and opens and closes with a satisfyingly springy twang. The knife is a seamless, glassy, pebble-smooth blending of metal components and rivets and naturally sports a real bone handle. Mollyjogger are steeped in huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ history in the Ozark mountains, Arkansas, USA and attention to craft and detail is wholly evident in their very comprehensive scrimshaw kit:
  • Steel-point Scribe
  • 1/2 Dram India Ink
  • Tracing Tool
  • Transfer Paper
  • Fine Steel Wool
  • Ink Applicators
  • Specialty Multi-Surface Pencil
  • Step by Step Instructions and Sample Graphics
See picture captions for details, but this is as close as you can get to experiencing the whaling sailor’s art first-hand. A more original piece, whether for yourself or an ‘outdoorsy’ friend, you’d be hard-pushed to find. I hear they can ship to the UK for Christmas if ordered by the end of the 1st week of Dec too...

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Kent University Philanthropy Map

The paper
‘Scratch’, ‘dip’, or ‘quill’ pen.

I don’t like sketching out in pencil first, I prefer to dive in with ink. Riskier but a more enjoyable and spontaneous/natural line results.

A scant pencil crosshair is enough for me to work out the composition on this trick circle.

Have a Gander were recently commissioned to provide a hand-drawn map for local University of Kent at Canterbury. The map features on the inside cover flap of a book on Philanthropic Gifts to the university over the past 50 years. Work-in-progress ink and watercolour work on ‘The Langton’ 300gsm ‘Grain Fin’ paper.