I carve from native woods detailed life size carvings of native birds. The wood is salvaged from old fencepost’s, building renovations and various other random sources. It feels fitting that I carve New Zealand birds from recycled native New Zealand woods. Most commonly found timber is totara but other woods I use are rimu, matai, southern rata, kauri and native broadleaf.
No birds were harmed in the process of creating my carvings! I get to enjoy a charming fantail with- out any residual guilt it was once alive.
Each species of bird I research as much as possible before starting to carve. Mainly I use photos, books and scientific papers for most of the details but sometimes I organise a visit to the Canterbury Museum to view specific birds in their collection to study areas not often very visible in photos.
After research, drawing of plans and selection of wood, the initial roughing out is done using an electric band-saw. Most of the work is then achieved using traditional carving hand tools, as I find them superior to machinery because they are less noisy, produce no irritating dust (which I hate), and often work progresses faster. The fine feather detailing I burn in using a pyrography tool (hot poker pen). For texturing areas where detail isn’t as important I might use a stone bit in a electric Dremal tool or very fine micro carving chisels.
I then paint the birds as they appear in life using fine acrylics.
Beyond that, a goal of mine is to try to carve every new Zealand bird at least once before I hang up my carving tools for good.
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