Monday, January 30, 2012

Reproducing a Victorian tile fireplace - No. 5

Jumping right in though my last post was only yesterday!

Here are my favorite tools to carve with. They range in cost from $3 to around $36. The wooden handed tools are available in any craft or pottery shop and are easily replaced, but these are the same ones that I've been using for over 30 years. I keep a sharpening stone nearby and sharpen them when they need it. I've also changed the shape of the carving end of some of them to fit my needs. The stainless steel ones are sold as plaster carving tools and are more recent additions to my tool kit, probably 10-12 years old. I wrap them in soft adhesive backed felt that I buy in the foot care section of the pharmacy. The steel ones really needed a larger, padded area to hold comfortably.

I use this beak tool to start the edge carving depth. Holding it upright gives a perfectly angled edge so that there isn't an undercut that will grab the plaster.

With a square edge in place I carve around the edges of the tile image.
Using one of my angled steel tools I start to carve away the wax surrounding the tile.

The blank now has about an inch of blank border space around the whole "tile area", with the "tile" raised about 1/8" to 3/16" higher than the border. This gives me enough space to easily set up my plaster frames around the design.
Here's the wax with the recessed border. I've also cut around the traced image and carved away most of the background. I find the first step of getting the wax ready for the actual carving of the decorative tile very meditative. It also prepares me for the actual carving, as I think about the style and design as I prepare the blank.

Carving and plaster pouring is up next!