Abraham and Isaac being the last of seven pieces I have learned a lot about doing a large project. In the picture you will see the fifth layer of wood being glued on to the block. I am using the minimal amount of wood possible. For two reasons Mahogany has gotten expensive and there is less wood to remove to finish the carving.
When I did Samson it was pretty much one big block of wood that was a glue up of a few dozen boards. Samson weighed 300 pounds before it was carved and around 120 pounds when it was finished. Abraham and Isaac was around 150 before and will be under 100 pounds when finished.
Before I get down to business with a mallet and my chisels this is what I used on Abraham and Isaac: Shopbot CNC, Titebond II glue, my trusty Porter Cable drill and Irwin, Miro-Moose Hand Screw and Rockler pipe clamps.
The CNC is helpful in removing a lot of wood quickly with minimal involvement on my part. Would Michelangelo use such a device or is it cheating? I will write a blog post on that soon.
The glue is a water resistant wood glue that works great. These will never reside outside but better safe than sorry.
Three types of clamps with three purposes. The Irwin clamps are great for positioning the pieces being glued. The wood will slide a lot when initial clamp pressure is applied. The Irwin clamps are easy to use one handed and easy to adjust as needed. The pipe clamps work great for applying a ton of pressure on the glue joint. The hand screw clamps can apply a great deal of pressure too but they really shine in having a deep throat and being able to clamp at odd angles.
This is what Abraham and Isaac look like at the start. Not very exciting or sexy but one of the most important parts of a project, selecting the wood. I need to go through up to 1000 board feet of wood to find the 70 to 100 board feet I need for each carving. The grain, color, density, width, thickness, moisture content; they are all important in the selecting wood that will carve well. It is getting harder to find good mahogany for carving since Honduras restricted exportation a decade ago after a few bad eggs were harvesting trees that they shouldn’t have.
[catlist id=”18-19-1-20″]The last piece to complete the Hebrew 11 series. I have chosen the story of the sacrifice of Isaac in Genesis 22 to represent Abraham. This story is an allegorical representation of the Passion of Christ.
I love the woodcut pictured below. It is very intimate but does not lend itself well to being created in a large relief carving. The angels wings would be to wide and bulky for the space that the sculpture will live. I have my ideas on how to keep the tension and intimacy of this woodcut but make the sculpture more compact.