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-  The Carving Process  -

by Steve Schmeck

April, 2011 - It has been a pretty productive winter (yes, there is still snow on the ground) and I'll be carving at least this one more bowl before shutting down the carving studio for the summer. Perhaps some day I'll learn to manage my time well enough to do all the summer-things needed here on the homestead and still make time for carving too.

The tree that this block of black cherry is from had shaded our first home here, now the power-tool shop, for over 30 years. It had some problems dealing with maturity and was leaning toward the shop so it had to be cut. I was sorry to see it go but at least this bowl will live on.

So, here we go again. The bowl-in-a-tree soon to be released is on the bench.

 The Carving


April 18, 2011  This block of cherry was so heavy I had to have Sue help bring it in and put it on the carving bench. I have flattened off the bottom and marked the areas I want to save for the feet.


Same day but lots if chips later. It is looking more like a bowl - still pretty heavy. The chips are drying to be burned later to heat the house. At this stage I keep the bowl in a plastic bag whenever I'm not working on it to prevent splitting. Not very elegant but it is the only way I have found to be pretty sure the bowl won't crack during the carving process due to too-quick drying.

April 2011 Bowl in progress

May 1, 2011  The bottom is pretty much defined with blocky areas left for the feet. Now I've flipped it over and have drawn a line around the perimeter to estimate where the rim might be. The tall blocks I've left are for some swooping rim extensions I planned on carving into bottom-penetrating feet as in my previous 'Loopy' bowl. I'll not try to duplicate that bowl of course but plan on the 'legs' twisting up from the rim and diving downward through the bottom in a flowing movement. One problem: see that knot in the right leg-block? I is going to force a change in plans. I'll know soon how major a change as I cut away that area and reveal the direction of the knot and determine if it is solid enough to keep.

Cherry Bowl - 5/2/2011 Cherry Bowl - 5/2/2011
May 2, 2011  As they say, "What a difference a day makes". For a couple of reasons the design of this bowl transitioned to 'one swooping leg' from three. (1) The knot I mentioned above turned out to not be solid enough to incorporate into the bowl and (2) The bowl was looking a bit too balanced, not very dynamic. The rim shape you see here will undoubtedly change as the bowl is hollowed out. I have left quite a bit of wood for the swooping leg so I can carve a twist into it, perhaps. I have made at least a half-bushel of chips so far from this piece!
  'Cherry Ribbon' by Steve Schmeck 'Cherry Ribbon' by Steve Schmeck
October 2012 Done at last! As you can see, the bowl finally came around to match my original vision. Smooth as silk, it is a large bowl at about 18" x 14" by 8". The bowl, currently titled "Cherry Looper", was displayed at a regional show, Northern Exposure XIX at the Bonifas Fine Fine Arts Center in Escanaba, Michigan. This bowl, like my previous bowl "Raven's Nest" seemed to not want to be rushed. I was on my carving bench for nearly 18 months. Next? A friend just dropped off several large (12" diam.) pieces of Apricot. I have not carved this wood before but it looks interesting and I'll get to work on it soon.

June 2013:  This bowl is now in a private collection.