Posts Tagged With: pattern

Alumni Volunteer Weekend

On October 1st during the SPS Alumni Volunteer Weekend I set up a display of the progress on the plaque project.  The display was in the Upper Dining Hall and took place during the Saturday luncheon.

I displayed the completed carving for the 2011 Form Plaque (below, center) and the progress of the 2006 Form plaque, shown on the right.  To the left is a rough carving blank – the form of the basswood when I start the carving process. On display in the front of the plaques in this photo is the design drawing for the 2011 plaque, and my design sketchbook open to the page of the 2/3rd scale concept drawing.

The second half of the display featured other examples of my carving work, including a carved bear with a Celtic knot motif, the SPS pelican shield, and the Spanish cedar carving in progress of a pelican on her nest.

The luncheon event provided me with the opportunity to meet a number of representatives from the Forms in need of plaques and to introduce them to the process.  I had a great time talking with everyone and answering questions about Form plaques past, present, and future.

Categories: Carving Process, Form of 2006, Form of 2011 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2006 Form Plaque Progress: Beginning Carving

This year I will work with the Student Council officers from the Form of 2012 to design and carve their plaque and to continue the Form plaue project forward. Additionally, there are twenty years of Form plaques that have not been carved preceding the recently completed 2011 plaque. The first of the missing plaques to be carved is for the Form of 2006, and following that will be the Form of 1996 plaque.

Four design elements were chosen by representatives from the Form of 2006 to be incorporated into their Form plaque design: The Sesquicentennial, the Mother’s Day flood, the beginning of Bill Matthews’s Rectorship, and Hurricane Katrina.  The final design sketch is shown below:

Here is a description of the design elements:

  • Central Motif:  I have adapted the SPS Sesquicentennial logo design with St. Paul in the center surrounded by the four shields depicted in the logo (pelican, book, sword, Episcopal shield).  A scroll ties them together horizontally in the center with the dates: 1856 – 2006.
  • Upper Left: The book symbol represents the Rural Record, a diary of day-to-day School life that was kept from 1857 into the early twentieth century.  William Matthews’s initials are incorporated on the pages of the  open book, symbolizing the beginning of his Rectorship and representing the recording of the event of the change in leadership into School history.
  • Upper Right: The satellite view of the spiral of the storm – representing Hurricane Katrina
  • Lower Left and Right:  The flood waters of the Mother’s Day flood of 2006

Following is a series of photos documenting the beginning carving process:

This first photo shows the plaque after the background level has be cleaned out using a router. You can still see the rough edges that are left from the router bit.

This view shows the background after it has been cleaned up.  The edges between the elements are trimmed closely using a variety of shapes of carving tools and the background levels have been further defined.  The spiral shape of the Hurricane Katrina symbol has been added.

In this picture the scrolls are beginning to take shape, and the spirals of the water element are starting to emerge.  The shield shapes have been brought down to their levels and are ready to have the emblems carved into them.

There will be more photos to follow as I progress – stay tuned!

Categories: Carving Process, Design Process, Form of 2006 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Bully Band of Color

Researching the history of the Form plaques is a fascinating process, and the archives at SPS has yielded some interesting artifacts. Among these materials are a few of the original concept sketches for the Form plaques, this one from the 1861 plaque described in this earlier post.

These concept sketches, among some of the original letters written in 1922 between the first Form plaque carver, John Gregory Wiggins, and the Rector at that time, Samuel S. Drury, illustrate a surprising detail of the early plans for the project.  This excerpt from the October 11th letter by Wiggins describes part of his vision for the project:

. . . that when the line of head panels have strung out to a sufficient extent the molding around them, and the panels themselves, are to be picked out in color.  I feel sure that this will give a bully “band of color” eventually, though if it were done before a large portion of the room were paneled, it would look very queer and startling.  That is the reason I am against putting in any color as yet.

Drury’s response in his November 16th letter supports this plan:

Personally, as you know, I like a bit of color or gilt in these decorations. I think that the effect of a long row of decorations, heavily carved, without some lighting up is apt to be like monastic choir stalls, rather dusty.

And in the November 30th edition of the Horae Scholasticae from that same year Wiggins reinforces that plan in print:

The primary object of these panels is to designate the Forms whose names are carved in the panels below. The carving around the numerals is of distinctly minor importance and its purpose is to frame the Form numbers, and eventually to form a band of color and carving running around the entire length of the wainscoting.

Anyone who has seen the original plaques that are in place in the Upper Dining Hall will find this a little surprising because there isn’t even a hint of color on any of the plaques displayed there.  The entire group of plaques are stained with a dark oak wood stain matching the rest of the woodwork and paneling of the room, which would appear to be the opposite of Wiggins original intent.  It will be interesting to see if the reason for this change of plan emerges with further research.

John Gregory Wiggins was able to express his vision of color for the plaques eventually.  The hallway leading to the Upper Dining Hall displays the last series of plaques he carved, ending in 1953.  The next time you are heading to the dining hall for a meal, take a moment to look at these painted plaques and then imagine what that “bully band of color” would have looked like if Wiggins had been able to paint those plaques as he had originally planned.

Categories: History | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

The Carving Process: The Pattern

The first step in the carving process is creating a pattern of the carving design.  The photo below shows the design adapted from the original stone carving in the first Carving Process post.  I used a photograph that I took of the pelican carving from the SPS cemetery as a reference and drew the design to fit the size of the piece of mahogany I selected for the carving.  The pattern is first roughly sketched and then a finished drawing is done on graph paper at full size.

A photocopy of the pattern, shown at the very bottom of the photo, is used to transfer the design onto the wood. I trace the outline of the pattern onto the wood and then use graphite paper to add the interior details.  I re-draw the design on the wood with a soft dark pencil.  This lovely piece of mahogany is ready to be cut out using a scroll saw.

The photo below shows the piece after carefully cutting the outline shape using the scroll saw.   Here I am using a hand-held router to rough out the background area surrounding the pelican’s head.  This will clear the wood out from that background area and leave it the same depth, which simplifies the roughing out process greatly.

The wonderful thing about working with mahogany is the smell – cutting, sanding and carving the wood gives off a rich spicy aroma.  After the routing is finished the edges of the carving are smoothed using rasps and wood files.  Then the piece is ready for the next step in the carving process: roughing out.

Categories: Carving Process, Design Process | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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