Archives for January 2018

Gourd Art Banjo

Gourd Art Banjo

gourd art banjo

What happens when …

…you unite the joy of gourd art crafting, the joy of bright and vibrant colors, and the joy of music?  You create this joyous gourd banjo with copper wire strings.

An extra large kettle gourd with some damage around the stem area inspired this fun gourd musical instrument project.  While I did not take step-by-step photos … I was too involved in the fun of creation to remember … I will share four easy ‘secrets’ that made the construction quick and accurate.

Supply List:

The general supply list is posted on the image below.  Please click on this image and save it to your desktop.

Arteza Bone Folders (Set of 4)
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 14 AWG, 0.064″ Diameter, 80′ Length
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 18 AWG, 0.04″ Diameter, 195′ Length
Bare Copper Wire, Bright, 20 AWG, 0.032″ Diameter, 315′ Length
Jameco Valuepro 24BC 24 AWG Solid Bare Copper Bus Bar Wire 205′
Heavy Duty Muslin Clamps 4 1/2 inch 6 Pack
Liquitex Professional Flexible Modeling Paste Medium, 16-oz

 

gourd art banjo1. How to cut any gourd along a perfectly level, accurate circumference line.

Clean and prepare the outer surface of your gourd as you normally would.  Wipe any sanding dust from the outer surface with a damp cloth, then allow the gourd to dry completely.

Visually estimate where you want the cut line along the circumference.  Make a mental note as to which area of the gourd you will be using (the down side) and which area you will be removing (the up side).

Fill your kitchen sink 2/3’s full of water.  Hold your gourd throughout this step as level to your visual cut line as possible.  Place the down side – the side of the gourd that will become your project – into the water.  Push it down until the bottom is covered with water and the surface of the water is at your visual cut line.

Lift the gourd up from the water carefully.  Your gourd will have a perfectly level, perfectly straight, perfectly even wet line around the circumference of your gourd.  With a soft #2 to #4 pencil mark the edge of the wet line.  You are ready to  cut.

This is a great technique when you have an odd shaped gourd that has an un-level top.  Plunge your gourd into the sink water until the bottom sits firmly against the bottom of the sink.  The water line will now be an even measurement from the bottom of the gourd, making a perfectly level cut line.

gourd art banjo2.  How to sand any gourd top cut evenly and level.

While you are at the hardware store buying birch plywood for the face of your banjo, purchase three or four extra pieces.  You will also need two sheets each of 100-, 150-, and 220-grit sandpaper, spray adhesive, and 1″ wide masking tape.

Work in a well ventilated area. Lay a strip of masking tape along one edge of the plywood.  Your plywood is 12″ wide, while your sandpaper is only 11″.  The tape protects the extra plywood from the spray adhesive.

Spray an even coating of adhesive over the 12″ x 12″ sheet of plywood.  Lay one sheet of 100-grit sandpaper onto the board, aligning along the top edge – opposite of the tape.  Lay a second sheet of 100-grit sandpaper against the first, so that the entire board is covered with sandpaper.  Press firmly into place.  Remove the masking tape.  Let the adhesive dry well.

Cut off  the extra 4″ strip of extra sandpaper that extends off the board.

Repeat these steps for your 150- and 220-grit sandpapers.

Clamp the board to a firm surface, your work table.  You can lay your cut edge of the gourd onto the board and move the gourd in circular motions to evenly, and quickly sand the edge perfectly flat.  Work the gourd through the three stages of sandpaper grit, starting with the 100-, then the 150-, and finishing up with the 220-grit.

3. How to fill the joint line between the gourd’s cut edge and the plywood face.

Even with the most careful cutting and sanding you can have small gaps in the joint between the plywood face and the gourd walls.  Fill the gaps with Modeling Paste, also called Sculpture Paste.  This is a water-soluble, acrylic-based, medium thick paste that dries quickly and can be sanded smooth.

Follow the directions on your jar.  I prefer to lightly dampen the area that I will be filling.  I let the area dry until there are no shiny, wet spots then fill the area with a light layer of modeling paste.  Let this layer dry completely and lightly sand.  If the area is not completely filled I repeat the application.  Thin layers are easier for me to control, shape, and sand.  Plus thin layers dry more evenly than thick applications.

Modeling paste – sculpture paste – can be painted using your craft acrylic colors.  It’s perfect for those gourds that have rough or pitted areas on the surface!

A quick trick to insure that your jar of modeling paste lasts a long time is to thoroughly clean the jar rim and the inside of the lid after every use.  Cut a square of plastic clinge wrap about 2″ larger than the jar opening.  Place the plastic clinge wrap onto the jar’s opening, then put on the lid.  The wrap seals along the jar’s rim, preventing your paste from drying out.

Lora S. Irish patterns4. Save yourself time, worry, and fuse by using ArtDesignsStudio.com patterns!

Like many crafters you have only so much limited time to create and craft.  Do you want to spend that time actually working on your project or on researching, designing, and refining the pattern you will use?

We have over 3000 line art and craft patterns, ready to download directly to your home computer, in a huge variety of themes, ideas, and designs – Wildlife, Celtic, Wood Spirits, Architectural Accents, Landscapes, and so much more.

I use CP139 Henna Tattoos 1 and CP140 Henna Tattoos 2 from our Special and Miscellaneous Patterns Category for my Gourd Art Banjo.

Back to the Basics of Wood Carving

Back to the Basics of Wood Carving

Wood Carving Tools for Carving a Wooden SpoonWhat tools do you need to start carving?

This common question is very hard to answer because the tools and knives you may be using one year from now could well be very different than those that I suggest for a newbie carver.

Shown right is a set of spoon carving tools that include several sizes and profiles of round gouges.

 

wood carving toolsYour First Carving Tools

If you are just starting wood carving I strongly suggest a simple set of carving tools.  Sets are available in 6 to 12 tools, and often come with a storage box or cloth roll.  Select a medium-sized tool profile set of 1/2″ wide or less that includes at least a straight chisel, skew chisel, large round gouge, small round gouge, and a v-gouge.

A mid-quality beginner’s tool set of five to six tools will cost between $40 to $75.

To this set add the best bench knife or large chip knife that you can afford.  Your bench knife is your primary tool in carving and the better quality steel makes all the difference in how easy your carving flows through the cuts.  A high-quality bench knife often runs around $35 to $60.

Interchangeable blade sets are also excellent for the new carve.  As an example I use the FlexCut 11 piece Interchangeable set all the time for whittling, relief, and cane carving.  This set has every tool profile that a new carver needs while keeps your initial costs low.  I also have used the same Ramelson Beginner’s Set for nearly twenty years with great success.

You will also need a sharpening set to keep the edge of your new tools crisp.  Sharpening tools can include ceramic stones, a leather strop, honing compound, and a slipstrop.  Estimate another $50 to $75 for your sharpening set.

All of these tools are explored in Beginner’s Whittling and Relief Carving Tool Kit.

What I do not recommend for the beginning carver!

1. I don’t use any sets that are available from the large arts and crafts box stores.  These sets are very inexpensive because they are not manufactured from high quality steel.  Often they come un-sharpened or only partially sharpened, which means that you must conquer sharpening techniques before you ever put a knife into the wood.

2. I don’t recommend high-end, extra-high quality tools for a beginner.  I know, those sets are just beyond beautiful and the very best you can buy.  And I know that I just told you to buy the best bench knife you can afford … But … neither you nor I know whether you will love wood carving with the intensity that I do at this point in your new hobby. We also can not predict what style of carving you will finally chose.

These tools can be purchases after you discover that you are addicted to carving!  You can purchase high-end tools individually which means you can add to you beginner’s set one tool at a time.

So, at this time, save that money to purchase wood.

3.  While I do list utility knives as a possible starting tool kit I do not recommend them.  Utility knives are made to be disposable and do not have the steel strength that true wood carving tools do.  Utility knife blades can crack, split, and pop at any moment, and create a danger of injury.

Cutting the slope of a wood spirits mustacheCarving Styles

There are many different styles of wood carving and each has its own set of specialty tools.  In the next year, as a new carver, I strongly recommend that you give all of these carving styles a try.  Most long-time carvers work several different styles on a regular bases.

Whittling is often done with one medium-length bench knife or pocket knife.  A few extra tools may be in your whittling kit and could include a small v-gouge, a small u-gouge, and perhaps a medium or large round gouge.

progressions chip carving practice boardChip Carving uses a set of three short blade knives, often set on a slight angle from the handle.  I personally use a large chip carving knife as my primary bench knife.

Hardwood Old World style carving uses heavy handled, large bladed tools that are moved through the wood using a leather or wood mallet.  The straight chisel, skew chisel, round gouge, and v-gouge are the main tools used.

3-D Carving uses a basic set of tools that include chisels, round gouges, v-gouges, and a pocket knife, bench knife, or utility knife.

Relief Carving uses a very similar set of tools to 3-D carving with the addition of bent-back gouges, dog-leg gouges, and the bull nose chisel.

Cane Wood Carving Project by Lora IrishCane Carving, as relief and 3-D, uses a basic tool set with the inclusion of a draw knife, dowel sets, and clamps.

Power Carving is a style that uses rotary tools with diamond, steel, or ruby bits to do the basic work.  A basic 3-D or Relief Carving set of tools is then used to dress out the carving.

 

 

 

The Art of Spoon CarvingBeginner’s Whittling and Relief Carving Tool Kit

This in-depth tutorial explores all the tools, knives, and carving aids that I have accumulated over twenty years of wood carving.

Some were inherited from my father, who was a gun stock carver.  Some are sets that I have purchased and used over the years.  Of course, some are just fun specialty tools that I have added to my kit.

While you may need to purchase your bench knife, chip knife, and carving tool set to begin your new hobby, many of the tools listed in this tutorial you may already own in your woodworking or craft supplies.

Browse through the tutorial, consider what you already have on hand, and then make your selection.