Spike Carlsen

The Eye of a Master fred describes carving as both an artistic and logical endeavor, but he's been carving for so long and works so intuitively that he finds it difficult to put the creative process into words. "Part of it is learning how to see," he explains. But since there are tools, materials, specific end results and a coherent way of getting there, "Part of it is engineering the piece, too."

He often works from photographs and is not beyond asking friends to dress in bed sheets to serve as models when he's carving robed religious figures. Interviews sometimes help Fred understand the personalities of his subjects that photos can't convey. With some commissions, he'll create life-size sketches as a guide, but he rarely uses calipers to transfer measurements, since some elements grow and others shrink when they're carved, especially in mezzo-relief.

For the commissioned project shown here, Fred started with two photos—an inspriational shot showing the father and his daughter playing solitaire and a second shot

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