Carving John Bellamy’s $660,000 Eagle

I recently received a commision to carve one of John Bellamy’s most famous carvings. Though I had created a pattern for it about a year ago, I had yet to actually carve one. This eagle will be smaller than the original at about 28″ wide. That’s about as small as I would carve one of these. Any smaller and you start losing some of the details.

Having a good pattern is the key to getting a close reproduction of the original. And having a high resolution photo of the original helps to get the details right. But without actually having the original in front of you, much of it is guess work.

Here is a series of photos taken a various stages. The last photo is the original.

If you’d like to try carving one yourself, at the end of this post you can purchase a pattern. To purchase a finished eagle click here.

God Is Refuge #1

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Template has been cut on the band saw and the head piece has been glued on.

Order a carving pattern here.


Another Liberty Head Carving – From the Morgan Dollar

I just finished another carving of a portrait of Lady Liberty. This time the portrait is from the gorgeous Morgan dollar. I tried some new things with this carving. I tried a new wood, African Mahogany. It’s a beautiful wood but has some problems. The grain has a little too much figure. The figure makes carving with the grain difficult. The grain of figured wood changes constantly.

Fortunately, another thing I tried was ultra high relief. Carving end grain in this wood produces the smoothest surface. When carving ultra high relief you spend much of the time carving end grain. The wood I used was almost 4 inches thick. I was able to carve a full 1/2 of the face. This required much more realism and attention to the true shape of the head.

The final thing I did for the first time was texture the background. I hadn’t planned on doing this but the changing grain made it too difficult to get a smooth background. I took a big 1/2″ bolt and filed a cross hatch pattern in the end of it, then used it as a punch and textured the entire background. This camouflaged any tear out and created a darker background, which made the subject stand out more.

The only time I’ll use African mahogany again is if I do another ultra high relief or full in-the-round carving. If you’d like to try carving this portrait yourself the pattern is available for sale.


Carving a New Sign For My Business

For years I’ve wanted to replace the tailgate of my pickup truck with a hand carved sign to use as a unique form of advertising. I’m finally doing it. Following is a photo diary of the process from conception to the final product.

Like everything else this carving started with a vision, and had to be put to paper before any carving could begin. I sketched out a design on a regular 8 1/2 x 11″ sheet of paper and then scanned it into my computer. Once digitized, I imported it into Adobe Illustrator and traced the sketch, then played with it until I was happy with the design. After measuring the original tailgate on my truck, I scaled the design to work on a piece of wood that matched the tailgates dimensions. Below is the finished drawing done in Adobe Illustrator. Click on the image below, and all images to follow to see a larger view.

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Building Weights for an EZ-Up Tent

I’ve been doing more shows and have finally bought one of those EZ-Up tents or shelters–whatever they call them. These things are great. Two people can have one set up in about one minute with a little practice. It folds up nice and neat into a bag with wheels, so you can easily transport it. The problem with these things is that they can be deadly weapons in the wind. Unless they are staked or weighed down, a little wind can send them airborne like a kite. EZ-Up sells bags that you fill with sand and wrap around the legs. They average around $68 dollars, though you can get them online for about $50. Stakes usually aren’t acceptable for various reasons, so most people rely on some sort of weights. People have come up with all sorts of gadgets as weights to hold down their tent. I’ve come up with a great and inexpensive solution to the problem. Read on to see what I came up with.

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Carving Lady Liberty

Here is a carving  I just finished from one of the latest patterns I’ve posted on my patterns page. This version of Lady Liberty came from an early 19th century gold American coin.  The dark spot on the hair is a hidden sap pocket or knot or some other defect that was hidden until I starting cutting away wood. I also didn’t expect for the grain to be so pronounced. I used a little tung oil and it made the white pine look like yellow pine.