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You are welcome... Hope you will post some results when you've carved some.
G'day Whittling and everyone
I've been out of action for the last month or so. Bless my two computers for packing up at the same time. Finished up having to get a new one worse luck. It is nice to see what is happening carving wise again.
I was surprised to see that there were books available on golfball carving. I guess there must be books on nearly everything these days if you know where to look. Thanks Kev.b and waky 53 for the info.
Whittling, here are my latest efforts. I carved the white one just when my computers died. I found the white very hard to carve due to the lack of shadowing. The coloured balls seem much easier, although I am about to have a go with one that is virtually black and have a feeling that it may offer similar difficulty.
The white one was supposed to have a distressed expression, but I think it looks more angry than distressed.
The blue one was just a goofy expression which I just did as I went along. I was showing a friend of mine the techniques you have taught me and that was the result. (Any further advice would be appreciated. I am still having iris trouble - Whittling, do you use a knife or gouge? Have tried both but can't seem to get them symmetrical)
My friend rang me the other day and said he was having his first go at carving one when he noticed red stuff. Guess what he did??? Put his finger guard on the wrong finger. He reckons he is getting a glove now. I can certainly relate to his experience. Nothing like keeping fingers out of the firing line of sharp tools.
I hope everyone had a lovely Xmas and will have a great New Year.
Getting better and better Grant. I particularly like the way you are getting mouth and tooth detail. Hard to tell about the eyes without seeing a profile shot. Are you satisfied with the steepness of the eye planes? Flattened eye planes tend to spread the face out and reduce its '3d ness' if that makes sense.
I rarely use anything other than a fine-tipped blade for irises. The smallest gouge I have is 11/4 which is too big for these guys. I have tried dremil type small conical cutters which I use on wood carvings for that purpose, but the golf ball stuff doesn't cut the same way with these. The results were unsatisfactory... kind of 'furry' looking. Part of the problem is that this stuff is not like wood. You need to get iris cuts right the first time. Going back over your work tends to make it ragged or furry looking. I think this is why the rotary tools don't work that well... they are really a series of cuts with the rotating tool, not one clean cut. Practice will fix this.
As for expression. I think that part of the problem with your angry guy is that you have inadvertantly carved conflicting expressional elements into the one face. These become apparent when you cover part of the face and see clearly the expression on the remainder. Then cover the other part and see different expression. When both parts are exposed together, the two expressions conflict and your mind, which is hard-wired to pick up very subtle facial changes, can't decide which expression is being expressed. This all happens on a sub-consious level. Covering part of the face eliminates the conflict and makes it easier to see.
For instance, cover the bottom half of the mouth of your guy. The upper lip is curving upward... a smile if you like. Now cover the top part of the mouth and you clearly have a frown.
Cover the right side of the face (as you're looking at it.. it would be his left side). The upper eye lid is sloping downward at an angle that gives the impression of a frown. The over all expression is one of anger or annoyance. Cover the other side now and see that the anger is significantly lessened by the different slope of the other eye lid. He looks far less angry on that side... more apprehensive or fearful. Take all these together, and the conflicts leave you less sure about what his expression really is. Keep in mind I'm looking at a photograph and these can sometimes distort the object, but that is what I can see with just a quick analysis. There's probably more.
These elements are very subtle. Learning to control them in predictable ways takes practice. I'm still working at it myself. Most people, even carvers, don't appreciate just how subtle they are. Its not until you actually try to create clear expressions that you begin to understand just how subtle and varied they can be. Carving the same thing over and over quickly becomes boring, but what the uninitiated don't understand about faces is their incredible variety. The more one learns about their complexity, the more scope for imagination and variety there is.
So far the books I've seen on golf ball carving do not really accent the true carving side as I see it. They rely on paint a great deal to convey the expressions and even the 'category' of face. To my eye the carvings themselves are quite basic, even disappointing. Perhaps I am doing them a dis-service as I'm sure I haven't seen all the books on this subject and I haven't seen any in detail... only those illustrations on the net. I assumed that they would want to put illustrations of their best work in their advertising and if that's the case, the ones I've seen are not ringing my bells. But that's just my opinion.
Having said that, I have picked up one or two ideas from them that I would like to pursue some time. There are always new things to learn if one is willing to look for them.
Hope all this rambeling helps...
Love to see some more of your work when you have the time.
PS Sorry to hear about your friend's fingers. Its why I advocate the stick handle.
Thankyou for your excellent critique of my attempts at facial expressions. It is exactly the info I need. I never thought to look at the each section of the face individually like you have suggested. I was just trying to marry all the bits together without considering the bits within the individual bits ie top and bottom lip shape.
I must agree with you about the lack of clear expression with many of the caracature faces exhibited in most of the wood carving books I have purchased. The best book by far, is the book you recommended "Creating Caricature Heads in Wood & on Paper" which I have purchased. Another book I recently bought is Ian Norburys "Carving Facial Expressions" which is also helping me a lot.
I am happy with the eye planes now. I am stunned at the difference in expression the two eye lids make when you cover each one and look at them individually. It was trying to fix my subtle errors with the irises that was bugging me, I never gave a thought to the other components like the eye lids affecting the appearance.
I have a micro-gouge which I have been using recently for irises in preference to my knife because of the terrible results I initially achieved with my knife. When you use a knife, are you cutting a coned shape or a cylinder? I will have a practice at just cutting irises on a few balls without any other detail and see if the practice sorts the problem out.
As you know, I am an absolute novice at this stage, but I am determined to become competent at creating expressions that look realistic. I can now see that matching the subtle components correctly creates the emotion you are trying to convey whether it be a caracature or a real face.
I will post more faces as I do them for further advice if that is OK.
Many thanks again.
Have a happy New Year everyone.
Fun isn't it?
There are a lot of carvers who are either scared off faces because of their complexity or who don't get the fact that they are so complex and so dismiss them as boring once they've learned to carve 'the face'. You are right when you say it makes no difference whether one works on caracature or true to life faces. The facial components governing expression are the same. Learning to recongnise and control these components will improve one as a carver of faces in either genre.
We are hard-wired to recongnise faces from birth and one of the very first things we learn as infants is to notice the increbibly subtle changes possible in the face. We rely on these to get clue as to what is really being communicated. Something in the way of 80% of all communication is non-verbal... being conveyed by either our body gestures or our faces. If you want to communicate with your art, one's skill at carving facial expression is going to play a significant part in that.
A tip for you with eye expression... the angle of brow lines as well as upper lid lines effect expression in terms of severity ie frown to worry. Upper lids can also be lowered to produce squints, which coupled with angle produce another range of expression. You can also raise lower lids to form closed or almost closed eyes coupled with brow angle and mouth expression produce yet another range of expression. Its almost endless and very hard to express in a written form... even with illustrations.
I carve irises in golf balls with a fine tipped knife. I usually try for a conical cut but it will vary depending on how big an iris I'm wanting and where on the eye ball it is located. Yes... irises also convey expression.... . For instance, small contracted irises in the centre of the eye ball give the impression of shock where as large irises against or partly under the top lid can give a 'doey' sort of look. Combined with other facial components that you select, they contribute to overall expression. Cylindrical cuts have to be broken out and its hard to do that without spoiling the clean lines of the edge of the iris. 'Fuzzy' edged irises don't look good. In the end though, you should use whatever works for you. If it cuts the shape you want cleanly it doesn't really matter what you use.
I have collected a few pocket knives over the years as the need for specialised blade shapes has evolved and I have tired of re-shaping blades as the need demands. Now when I get a blade the way I want it, I reserve it for that particular application and find another knife for my day to day stuff. It has resulted in a collection of about a dozen knives, which I only visit infrequently as the need for their particular configuration comes up.
Practice and that 'personal journey' that every carver goes through build up an experiencial 'reference guide' in your head upon which you can call at any time. An invaluable skill to an artist in my opinion, but not one gained easily or quickly. It's a lifelong thing for me... I'll keep at it cause the more I learn the more I realise I don't know!
G'day Whittling and everyone.
Thought you might get a chuckle from my latest efforts at golfball carving.
I had a go at doing a caricature face of two of my friends that I visited a week ago in Kingaroy. The initial one I began of my friend Mal did not look right when I first started it, and had another go with using a lop-sided expression. It worked out great. Sadly I did not have my camera with me in Kingaroy so don't have a picture of it. He was really chuffed when I gave it to him as a surprise after a game of golf. His wife Vanessa who I wanted to also give one, was there, and was even more appreciative of the fact that I had gone to the effort as well as managing to produce a pretty good resemblance of Mal. My effort at a ladies face for Vanessa was an abysmal failure. I finished up just making a face that looks like someone whistling. My other ball, which I had started of Mal had a happy ending. I played golf with another friend (Frank) on Saturday and Frank has a large moustache which looked like my first ball. I thought blow it, it could come out looking like Frank with a few modifications so I had a go and finished up with a reasonable result. I have attached a picture of my Frank ball and the failed Vanessa attempt. Hope you get a laugh.
Whittling, can you give me any advice on how to approach trying to carve a lady's face on a golfball? I can't seem to quite get the smooth features I would like. I have put in a side view of my Frank ball as well. Do you reckon the eye plane is getting nearer to what it should be?
Also, in the week-end, I went to carve a ball I had prepared a while back, and found I could barely cut it with my knife it was so hard. I had not left the ball logo on it, therefore couldn't reference it to any specific make. Made me realise that I need to be more selective in the balls I plan to carve.
On the golf ball carvability (if there is such a word), I purchased Tom Rhodes book Golfball Carving Unlimited, which has a list of approximately 650 types of golfball, with their colour and carvability. I have now found this list very useful in selecting the balls I plan to carve.
Tom's book was great, and offered some really clever ideas on different projects with golfball carving.
Love the moustache
Geez you've come a long way very quickly mate. Love what you've acheived.
In answer to your questions... I'd love to be able to help you with carving a female face but I'm going to have to learn to do it myself first. One of the hardest things to capture is the subtle difference between the male and female face. I've never yet managed one I was happy with. Part of it though is the size of the nose and the golf balls don't readily lend themselves to small conks! Real heads are oval not round, so the Golf Ball faces are distorted by necessity. The bit on a GB that sticks out the farthest is the nose area. This makes it hard to be delicate with the nose! I'll keep trying if you will...
The eye planes still seem a bit flat to me. I think part of the reason is the emphasis you put on the lower part of the face, while I tend to put more on the upper part.This equates to the eyes being closer to an 'equator' or horizontal centre line on my work, while I think you favour the mouth being closer to the 'equator'.
Your way pushes the top half of the face toward the cover edge and gives you more room for the mouth, or mustache and chin. My way squeezes the mouth and chin more but leaves the area of the eyes with more depth of material and therefore more room to get the steeper eye planes. This shows up in the way we each 'trim' the side of the face... you on the bottom of the face, me on the top of the face. (I hope this is making sense... its easy to demonstrate but a bugger to discribe in print.)
This choice of emphasis on top or bottom is necessitated by the fact that the balls are round while real faces are oval. There just isn't enough room for everything so the face has to be distorted to some degree. We've just chosen to do so in different ways. Its one of the reasons I like seeing other people's work in this medium... it teaches me different ways of approaching the caricature face that I probably wouldn't have thought of myself.
The eyes themselves are coming along too but you will find they get better with practice. Try varying the thickness of the upper eyelid and the height level of the lower lid. At the moment both your bottom and top eyelids are about the same, making the eye look a bit like two flattened rings. Also, the upper lid should cover or overlap the lower lid. Yours are just meeting at the corners rather than the top overlapping the bottom. This further exagerates the 'flattened circle' look.
Drooping the upper lid can give your guy a sleepy or stoned or sly look depending on what else you do with the brows and irises. Raising the lower lid can give your guy a puffy look or taken even further, give the impression of a closed eye. One closed eye and one open gives you a 'wink'. Pull the side of the mouth up on that side of the face and you have a mischievious or malicious wink depending on what you do with the corner of the mouth on the other side... the variations are endless. Experiment. Post. Share...
Go back to the eye WIP earlier in this thread and have another look with more experienced eyes. (your eyes not the troll's). Look for the variation in lid thickness top to bottom, side to side. Then compare it with the uniformity of your guys eyelids. You'll see what I mean when you look for it. Clean crisp irises will help here too. 'Fuzzy' edges to the irises can really spoil the look of the eyes.
I'm impressed if Tom Rhodes has figured out some kind of pattern in golf ball colours. I've never been able to detect any rhyme nor reason in em. You are quite right... they also very in hardness. If you stike one that you think is too hard, just pick another one. I find the hard ones show the 'facets' of the knife cuts more than the softer ones. Its easier to get a rounded look on the convex components with the softer balls, but I still almost always do the harder ones too. Its good practice for some of the harder timbers. If you think some golf balls are hard you should try a bit of dried eucylypt!
Above all though, keep at it. You've improved heaps faster than I did... that's for sure. I'll be coming to you for tips soon.
Many thanks for your nurturing of a novice golf ball carver and the kind words of support.
You have picked my method in one even though I did not know I had one. You have explained an awful lot in assessing how the face can be laid out. In my earlier efforts I was trying my best to follow your instructions, then my mate in Kingaroy criticised the fact that I did not have a chin on one of my carvings so I started to put chins on them and I guess that was how the mouth started to be my focus. It is interesting how things evolve without you realising it.
It is a bit late to modify the ball I am carving at the moment, but with the next one I shall have a go at putting the bottom of the eyes at face centre as with conventional faces and see how it goes.
I have referred back to your eye WIP and can see my problem. It will be interesting to see how the next ball comes out with more attention to the eyes.
I guess my quest to carve womens' faces is going to be an interesting and probably very frustrating one. I will post my efforts as I do them and hope a few suggestions from you may aid in getting it right.
On the hard ball subject. I reckon the ball in question would be nearly as hard as dry euclypt wood. I put it in the vice and started using my chisels on it. Still hard work, so I tossed it.
I have been corresponding with Tom Rhodes a bit via e-mail and he sent me an updated version of his golfball colour and carvability list. It is now over 800 balls (he told me he has opened up more than 5000 balls to carve to obtain the list to date). He only offers the list to people who have bought his book and asks not to share the info because he is still trying to recover the cost of publishing and marketing it, so I can't post the list. I reckon his book at $16 + postage is great value for anyone interested in this sort of carving. I guess it is such a niche market he may be struggling to find a large volume of buyers which is a shame.
Thanks again for your great support Whittling. Will post my efforts as I do them for extra advice.
No worries Grant. I'll look forward to seeing some more. I've been fooling around with eyelids myself recently. I'll try to get some pics.
Here is my latest offering. I was too near finishing to apply your advice and alter it. In my next one I will try what you suggest with the relativity of the eyes to the lower face and see what comes out.
My attached golfball picture is supposed to be a don't bring that thing near me type expression. My wife loves to handle the resident carpet snakes when they are around the house. This was an attempt to sum up my reaction to her when she brings them near me.
My wife is always pulling faces at me, and I said to her I would love to be able to carve the contortionist positions she puts on. I decided to take some photos of her pulling her faces the other day. She could make a great model for caricature carving. Good enough to crack the mirror I reckon (don't tell her I said that!!).
Looking forward to any suggestions.
Sorry, I missed the last entry... or at least I thought I'd answered them all. Seems I missed one. You are definately getting it now. I think the differences in the faces we carve can be put down to differences in our styles. Keep going on the same as you have been. Pay attention to your results and try new things. Start to 'file away' the variables you play with and note the expressions that result. In time you will build a 'gallery' of expressions in your head which you can call on any time you want to carve a face, character or true to life.
In the spirit of this thread I've been experimenting with a new line in the golf ball carving. I call this one
" Once in a Blue Moon"
LOL!! I love it,
"We must never become callous. When we experience the conflicts ever more deeply we are living in truth. The quiet conscience is an invention of the devil." - Albert Schweizer
My blog. http://theupanddownblog.blogspot.com
I am in NZ holidaying again. I have attached a copy of a ball I just carved here for my Dad. I found it quite difficult not being able to use my normal tools. Particularly the fact that I did not have my sharpening gear with me as well. The face is quite chipped and feathery looking. It makes me appreciate using really good tools.
Maybe I should have labelled my last facial expression "look out for Whittling's blue moon!!!!!", not get that snake away from me.
I love the different slant on golf ball carving. Very clever mate.
Tom Rhodes' book shows quite a number of different ideas for carving golf balls along similar lines. In some cases, he removes the cover completely on the balls and then glues sections of cover back for various effects - bases, hats, helmets etc.
My latest carving in Aus is one tring to imitate an old man smiling with his eyes tight shut, but I cannot get the creases of the closed eyes quite right. Is there a secret to closed eyes as well as open ones?
Loved the blue moon.
The ball you carved for your dad looks like its well under way. You're right about the sharp tools, but you needn't be hampered by protability. Nothing beats a good multi-bladed pocket knife for this kind of work IMHO. All the blades fold into the handle and the whole kit fits in your pocket (except when traveling by air... then put it in your check in )
I've only just started fooling around with closed eyes. I'll try to get a few photos of ones I've got done here and post them with more of an explaination of how I get the effect. Shafe did one right at the beginning of this thread which I thought had this squint effect pretty good.
I also recently did one for a client. She sent me a photo of her grandson to use as a base for the GB face. Hard yakka as the human head is oval and the GB is round. I'll post a photo of that too. The interesting thing about it was that the nose came out very similar to the ones you do. I deliberately tried to make it smaller and not dominating the face so much as it was supposed to look like a real person. Not all that thrilled with the outcome myself but the customer is happys so I guess that's what matters.
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