Acanthus Leaf

2. Establishing the vertical edge of the leaf is called setting in. This procedure is done by slicing down 90° to the work piece with a gouge until you reach the pencil line of the leaf drawing.
Acanthus Leaf Drawing
3. After outlining the leaf, mark die two highest points of the carving (the scroll ami turnover). Next, to establish the lowest |M»mt along the scroll's ridge, carve a channel between the scroll ami the leaf.

Outlining the Leaf

When your leaf is roughly outlined and the background is reasonably smooth and flat, it's time to start outlining the leaf more precisely. This procedure is referred to as setting in. Setting in establishes the vertical profile of the carving. In this first outlining, you'll set in by holding the carving tool at a 90° angle to the wood and cutting straight down, shaving wood away until you reach the pencil line of the leaf drawing. (See photo 2.)

You'll notice the line of the leaf drawing has parts that are smooth (around the scroll, above the turnover, and on the lower stretch between leaf and scroll) and parts that are jagged (along the leaf s lobes). You only need to set in along the smooth parts for now. Don't try to set in the very fine divisions between the lobes yet. The wood is still too thick. It will be easier to set in along the fine divisions of the jagged pans later, after you've modeled the lobes. For now. merely set in broadly around these lobes.

To set in along the smooth areas of the leaf mentioned above, use gouges. (See photo 2.) Match the sweep (or curve) of the gouge to the outline of the curve (I used »2, »3, and *5, 10 mm to 20 mm). It's very important that you don't undercut the pencil line, and it's equally important that you don't set in too deeply into the background. Go gently when your gouge nears the background level, and try to stop cutting exactly at the background level. As you set in, you'll also need to lower the background to the setting-in line with a gouge (*2, 16 mm to 20 mm) or a wide, flat chisel. The setting-in line and background should meet evenly and cleanly.

Next, set in the broad outline of the lobes. Roughly outline the leaf lobes with a large fluter (#11, 16 mm) and gouges (»3. #5, and »7, 20 mm). Remember not to undercut the pencil line—this could be disastrous later on. (Photo 3 shows how the leaf should look after this initial outlining.)

Modeling the Leaf

With the leaf outlined and the overall shape defined, it's time to start sculpting the leaf. Remember that the leaf lobes vary in height. This movement from high to low Is referred to as modeling and gives as much movement and life to the leaf as the outline does. Modeling is critical to the overall success of the carving.

The leaf has two high points: the scroll dome and the turnover peak. (See drawing.) Mark them with a pencil so you don't cut them away.

Now comes a critical step in the modeling process—blocking out. Blocking out simply means establishing die general planes of the carving. It's a technique that applies to all relief carving, and it makes the entire carving process much easier.

4. To establish the slope between the turnover and the scroll, carve a ramp with a gouge from the highest point oil the turnover, sloping down to meet the channel.
5. To model the main pipe, carve a x/i-\n. deep groove just below the main-pipe line with a fluter. Slightly undercut the ritlge along the top of the pipe.
6.Set ¡11 along the inside curve of the turnover vtith gouges. Undercut this curve and hlock out the lower lobe* so that the maui-pi|»e groove and lower lobe run under the turnover.

First, block out the central section of the leaf (the part between the scroll and the turnover). To do this, use a fluter to carve a channel about V< in. deep, separating the scroll and the leaf. (See drawing and photo 3 ) Next, with a *2, 20-mm gouge, carve a ramp from the high point you marked on the turnover down to this channel. (See photo 4.) This ramp establishes the high points of the lobes in the central part of the leaf. The channel bottom establishes the lowest point along the scroll ridge that runs between the scroll and the leaf. Hie channel also serves as a stopping point for the ramp, preventing your gouge from biting into the scroll. Carving the ramp obliterates a large piece of the original drawing. You'll redraw it later.

The leaf has several pipes, or ridges, that flow from the divisions between leaf lobes. (See drawing.) Pipes, along with turnovers and scrolls, are important building blocks in leaf work. To work effectively, each pipe must flow cleanly, without bumps, tapering evenly toward the scroll. Now if you look at the drawing, you'll see that the main pipe that runs from the turnover, left to the bottom edge of the carving is the largest and visually strongest. This pipe is a continuation of the curve of the scroll (a cyma curve). It gives the whole leaf its sense of motion.

Draw the main pipe carefully on the ramp you just carved away. Use a fluter (»11, 10 mm) to carve a groove that defines the lower edge of the main pipe (sec photo 5), slightly undercutting the ridge along the top of the pipe. Make this groove approximately l/i in. deep.

At this point, it's convenient to set in the inside curve of the turnover with gouges (*8 and #9, 10 to 12 mm). Undercut this curve so the groove you just carved begins to run under the turnover. Be careful when you do this—don't set in all the way to the background. Model the lower leaves so there is about XA in. of stock for the lobe that folds under the turnover. (Photo 6 shows how the leaf should look when you've finished setting in at the turnover and modeling the lower leaves.) Be sure to work gently to avoid breaking out the side of the leaf.

9. .Model the turnover with flutcrs and gouges. Tin* outer two lobes are hollowed along their centers and curl up at their tips, while the lobe at the high s|mit lh convex and curls down at the tip.
8. To model the lolies, use gouges and flitters to hollow out the area.« between the pipe.«*. This will create ridges that form the pipes and valleys that make up the lo!>es.
7. Hound over the main stem of the leaf with a wide gouge held upside down, following the ridge of the main pipe. Work from the scroll toward the middle of the leaf.
I 0. Set in along the fine, deep division!» between the lobe», lining small gouge** with long, thin bevels. Slightly undercut the IoIh*s so they ap|>car light, air)', and separate from the background.
11. To fonn the scroll, start by carving titer general s!o|>e of the scroll ridge, ending the slope at the channel carved earlier.

which is extremely thin at this point— about % in.

You'll notice in the drawing that the main pipe extends from the highest point of the leaf (the turnover) down almost to the background at the bottom left-hand edge below the scroll. Working with a wide *3 gouge (16 mm to 20 mm) held upside down, round over the midsection of the leaf, following the ridge of the main pipe. (See photo 7.) Work from the scroll toward the middle of the leaf.

The next step is to model the lobes of the leaf. First, you'll need to redraw the lobes and the pipes that extend from the divisions between the lobes. (See drawing.) A key to good modeling is to draw these pipes in so that they flow smoothly, tapering evenly toward the scroll.

The ramp you carved earlier established the highest points of the lobes above the main pipe. At their tips, these lobes dip down to about % in. above the background. The lobes below the main pipe are carved in lower relief. The high point of these lower lobes is % in. above the back-, ground. At their lowest points, the lobes are about % in. above the background. This contrast in height makes the leaf interesting and creates deep shadows. One mistake beginning carvers frequently make is to spend a lot of time on the outline of the leaf and much less time on the modeling. Remember that good modeling is the key to a lively carving.

Note that the lobes aren't flat—one side is always higher than the other, and the centers are deeply fluted. Use gouges to model the lobes (*7, *8. and *9, 12 mm to 25 mm). Remember that you'll need wide gouges for the fattest parts of the lobes and narrower gouges where the pipes and hollows start to run closer together. Use gouges and flutcrs to hollow out the areas between the pipes (see photo 8) so that the pipes become ridges and the centers of the lobes form valleys

12. To model the convex portion of the scroll, carve down around the slope with a gouge held u|»side down.
13. Hollow out the concave portion with a gouge held right-side up.

between the pipes.

Next, model the leafs turnover. The dramatic dive of the turnover is what makes it interesting. Two of the lobes curl up at their tips, and the centers of these lobes are hollowed out. The third lobe curls down at the tip. (See photo 9.)

Refining the outline of the leaf comes next. Redraw any pencil lines you carved away while modeling, and sketch in the fine divisions between the lobes. Set in around the lobes with gouges (*2 to *7, 4 mm to 16 mm), cutting down toward the background. (See photo 10.)

You'll find it a bit difficult to carve these fine, deep divisions between the

14. To carve the scroll-hollow npex, »1*1 in around the scroll with a gouge.

1*"). Itouiul over the dome of the .scroll nitli an u|»*i<lc-4lottn gouge.

16. Finally, draw in the flutes, and then carve them with a fluter.

14. To carve the scroll-hollow npex, »1*1 in around the scroll with a gouge.

lobes. Be patient and use small gouges with long, thin bevels. Slightly undercut the lobes to make them appear light and airy, and separate from the background. As always, be careful not to set in too deeply—you don't want to mar the background. Use broad gouges or chisels to extend the flat background to the sctting-in line.

Now that the entire outline of the leaf is complete, concentrate on getting the background flat. This takes perseverance. I use wide, flat chisels and small planes. Check the background for flatness with a ruler.

Cowing Hie Scroll

Carving the scroll comes next. First, block out the slope of the scroll ridge. (See drawing.) To do this, draw on the scroll-ridge line and carve along this line with a 10-mm gouge, removing the pencil line as you go. This cut forms a ramp that establishes the height of the scroll ridge, as shown in photo 11. The ramp should curl around the scroll dome, and then downward to meet with the bottom of the first channel you carved, which separates the scroll from the leaf. The channel bottom determines the low-point of the scroll-ridge ramp (about % in. alxn-e the background).

When completed, the scroll ridge descends from the dome to the channel bottom and rises to meet the first

1*"). Itouiul over the dome of the .scroll nitli an u|»*i<lc-4lottn gouge.

lobe above the main pipe.

After carving the scroll-ridge ramp, redraw the scroll-ridge line from the scroll-hollow apex to the edge of the first lobe. (Seedrawing.)

With the scroll ridge established, you're ready to model the scroll. Note in the photo, page 42 that the scroll is convex on the outer curve and concave on the inner curve. First, carve the convex portion with an upside-down gouge (»5, 12 mm to 16 mm) (See photo 12.) Next, hollow out the concave portion with a «8, 10-mm gouge. (See photo 13 ) To carve the scroll-hollow apex, set in around the scroll with a 8-mm or 10-mm gouge, following the pencil line (see photo 14), and angle the same tool to slice out the waste. Work from the line of the scroll ridge toward the scroll until you join up with the hollow formed by the gouge. Finally, round over the dome of the scroll with an upside-down gouge (»3. 16 mm). (See photo IS.)

Finishing Touches

At this stage, I go back and refine any parts of the carving that don't look quite right to me until I'm happy with the form and flow of all the parts of the leaf. I then carefullv smooth the

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