I've Been Carving a Lot of Dogs

Since I've been designing and carving pull toys, I've really enjoyed carving dogs. I began with dachshunds and a pair of bull dogs. Recently I carved a Boston terrier that featured in the August issue of Early American Life Magazine.

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Recently I've begun a series of dog commissions. Folks send me a series of photos of their beloved pet and I create a pull toy in its image.

I would to do this for you. If you are interested, simply email me and we can discuss the details. The cost of any of my custom work is comparable to cost of any of my work. 

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Wait! You Collect Finishes!?

I wrote last week about my desire to tell a story and recreate authentic and realistic aged and distressed surfaces. In that piece I mentioned that I collect surfaces. I would love to share a few of my favorites.

 This is the only piece in the collection that I know much about. This was my great grandfather's drawing board. I've no idea what he drew, but this board was kept in his wood working shop. Though I never saw a drawing, I can presume that he drew the things he was building.  It's made of basswood -- known in his day as "whitewood". Basswood was historically used for utilitarian objects like cutting boards (That's a terrible application), kitchen work surfaces, ironing boards and drawing boards. This is not a wood known for its beauty. It has no color or grain pattern.   This board is unevenly oxidized to a grey-black. Though I've carefully washed it, there is grime imbedded in the wood. The tack holes are from its designed use. Before masking tape was developed drawings were affixed to boards with thumbtacks.   If you've looked at photographs of my work you've seen this board before. It's my go-to background for many of my shots.

This is the only piece in the collection that I know much about. This was my great grandfather's drawing board. I've no idea what he drew, but this board was kept in his wood working shop. Though I never saw a drawing, I can presume that he drew the things he was building.

It's made of basswood -- known in his day as "whitewood". Basswood was historically used for utilitarian objects like cutting boards (That's a terrible application), kitchen work surfaces, ironing boards and drawing boards. This is not a wood known for its beauty. It has no color or grain pattern. 

This board is unevenly oxidized to a grey-black. Though I've carefully washed it, there is grime imbedded in the wood. The tack holes are from its designed use. Before masking tape was developed drawings were affixed to boards with thumbtacks. 

If you've looked at photographs of my work you've seen this board before. It's my go-to background for many of my shots.

 I love this old turned stool. It followed me home from school when a former colleague left it behind.  This stool was manufactured close to the turn of the last century. It's well made and has been fairly well taken care of. By visually peeling back the layers you get a sense of its life. It was varnished or shellacked when new. At some time it was painted white (That has since alligatored) and later a beautiful red (also alligatored).  This is an honest and authentic "crackle" finish. This wasn't produced by a slick glaze from the hobby store or even the hide glue trick. This is the real deal -- produced by fluctuations in humidity, incompatible finishes and years of being rubbed by rear ends.   There is so much to see! 

I love this old turned stool. It followed me home from school when a former colleague left it behind.

This stool was manufactured close to the turn of the last century. It's well made and has been fairly well taken care of. By visually peeling back the layers you get a sense of its life. It was varnished or shellacked when new. At some time it was painted white (That has since alligatored) and later a beautiful red (also alligatored).

This is an honest and authentic "crackle" finish. This wasn't produced by a slick glaze from the hobby store or even the hide glue trick. This is the real deal -- produced by fluctuations in humidity, incompatible finishes and years of being rubbed by rear ends. 

There is so much to see! 

 This "Tackel" box has its share of stories. The name "Purvis Dum" paired with "Tackel" may be meant to poke fun at someone or perhaps was "hillbilly humor". I doubt we'll ever know.  This heavily built pine box is finished with motor oil. This unfortunate finish was not unusual in rural settings and may be part of whatever joke was intended. The wood and oil have oxidized to a near black. The oil never cures or hardens so the surface remains slightly slick. The interior has a smell not unlike the diesel powered wooden boats I worked and played aboard as a kid.  I love the way the wrapped handle has worn through the finish.

This "Tackel" box has its share of stories. The name "Purvis Dum" paired with "Tackel" may be meant to poke fun at someone or perhaps was "hillbilly humor". I doubt we'll ever know.

This heavily built pine box is finished with motor oil. This unfortunate finish was not unusual in rural settings and may be part of whatever joke was intended. The wood and oil have oxidized to a near black. The oil never cures or hardens so the surface remains slightly slick. The interior has a smell not unlike the diesel powered wooden boats I worked and played aboard as a kid.

I love the way the wrapped handle has worn through the finish.

 This is another wooden box - a tool box. I suspect that this box was originally  finished with varnish or shellac and later painted bright green. The green was not compatible with the original finish and alligatored in a wonderful and intricate pattern. The box was later painted yellow. Through normal wear the yellow wore away revealing much of the green paint -- only on the tops of the scales.  This box had a sewn leather wrapped handle. I decided to have a go at re-creating it. After a few attempts I managed to produce a pretty decent facsimile.  I painted "50 Little Birds" in salmon with a drop shadow.

This is another wooden box - a tool box. I suspect that this box was originally  finished with varnish or shellac and later painted bright green. The green was not compatible with the original finish and alligatored in a wonderful and intricate pattern. The box was later painted yellow. Through normal wear the yellow wore away revealing much of the green paint -- only on the tops of the scales.

This box had a sewn leather wrapped handle. I decided to have a go at re-creating it. After a few attempts I managed to produce a pretty decent facsimile.

I painted "50 Little Birds" in salmon with a drop shadow.

 This door divides our kitchen from the front rooms of the house. It's closed and sealed until restoration of the three front rooms is complete.   It's not original to the house. The only doors here when I bought it, in 1986, were hollow core luan. One of my first tasks was to replace every door with on that is historically correct.  When we first saw this door, leaning up in an antique mall booth, we had to have it. Not only are the color spectacular, the yellow nearly matches the kitchen trim.  There are a couple of things to notice here. Humidity plays a huge role in how wood acts, how it can be put together and how finishes look and act. In a door like this the green wooden panels float between rails and stiles. They are allowed to float so that they don't split when the humidity drops -- and wood shrinks -- in the winter. The bare wood reveal around the perimeter of the panels might indicate that the door was originally painted in fairly humid conditions when the panels had expanded to full width. In the winter -- when the furnace kicks on -- household humidity plummets and wood contracts. In this case leaving bare wood around the panels.  The bumps and dings on the door are constant with doors in service areas of the house -- kitchen, pantry, basement or a back door. Many of these dings might have occurred as folks pushed open the door and dragged tools, boxes or other large items across it. My back door has similar marks from my backpack. My mother complained about my trombone case and doors over 40 years ago.

This door divides our kitchen from the front rooms of the house. It's closed and sealed until restoration of the three front rooms is complete. 

It's not original to the house. The only doors here when I bought it, in 1986, were hollow core luan. One of my first tasks was to replace every door with on that is historically correct.

When we first saw this door, leaning up in an antique mall booth, we had to have it. Not only are the color spectacular, the yellow nearly matches the kitchen trim.

There are a couple of things to notice here. Humidity plays a huge role in how wood acts, how it can be put together and how finishes look and act. In a door like this the green wooden panels float between rails and stiles. They are allowed to float so that they don't split when the humidity drops -- and wood shrinks -- in the winter. The bare wood reveal around the perimeter of the panels might indicate that the door was originally painted in fairly humid conditions when the panels had expanded to full width. In the winter -- when the furnace kicks on -- household humidity plummets and wood contracts. In this case leaving bare wood around the panels.

The bumps and dings on the door are constant with doors in service areas of the house -- kitchen, pantry, basement or a back door. Many of these dings might have occurred as folks pushed open the door and dragged tools, boxes or other large items across it. My back door has similar marks from my backpack. My mother complained about my trombone case and doors over 40 years ago.

 This piece is a mystery. Its a large dresser -- five feet tall and seven feet long -- with eight drawers to the right and a wardrobe on the left. It's made of poplar and weighs more than I can handle. We bought it to put in an upstairs room. When we got it home we realized it would never make it up the stairs.   It was once a built in. We know this because there is finish trim on one end and none on the other. It's not missing. The other end wasn't built to take it.   Poplar was traditionally painted and I suspect the this piece has always been painted. The earliest visible coat is bright green. Beneath every drawer pull there is a line of seven orange dots.  The top coat of paint is a dark red -- almost brown -- that has been crudely and wonderfully grained in a bold loose pattern. There is wear in all of the right places -- around the pulls, the edges and the wardrobe door.   (The drawer edges are as crisp as the day it was built. One of my many pet peeves is often found in distressed furniture finished by mis-guided painters. So other drawer edges are sanded round to indicate wear. There isn't more protected surface than the top of drawer that is inside a case most of its existence. Unless the piece was used in some unusual way - drawer edges should be clean and square. Rant over)  The mystery is the faux graining over the green surface. The green seems more modern that that grain finish. I would love to know its story. A store fixture? Lodge fixture? Just a big dresser at home? 

This piece is a mystery. Its a large dresser -- five feet tall and seven feet long -- with eight drawers to the right and a wardrobe on the left. It's made of poplar and weighs more than I can handle. We bought it to put in an upstairs room. When we got it home we realized it would never make it up the stairs. 

It was once a built in. We know this because there is finish trim on one end and none on the other. It's not missing. The other end wasn't built to take it. 

Poplar was traditionally painted and I suspect the this piece has always been painted. The earliest visible coat is bright green. Beneath every drawer pull there is a line of seven orange dots.

The top coat of paint is a dark red -- almost brown -- that has been crudely and wonderfully grained in a bold loose pattern. There is wear in all of the right places -- around the pulls, the edges and the wardrobe door. 

(The drawer edges are as crisp as the day it was built. One of my many pet peeves is often found in distressed furniture finished by mis-guided painters. So other drawer edges are sanded round to indicate wear. There isn't more protected surface than the top of drawer that is inside a case most of its existence. Unless the piece was used in some unusual way - drawer edges should be clean and square. Rant over)

The mystery is the faux graining over the green surface. The green seems more modern that that grain finish. I would love to know its story. A store fixture? Lodge fixture? Just a big dresser at home? 

Those are a few of my favorite surfaces. I'm always in the lookout for others.

'nuf sed.