Cut up

©2022 Michael Raven

I’ve been trying to find things that are less cerebral to do in my spare time. Video games have started feeling samey the past few years, as the mechanics seem mostly iterations of past games with a new coat of paint applied. Everything feels derivative of about five different genres lately and I get bored easily when I feel like I already played the game before and I’m tired of blowing money on games I don’t finish. And now that I am part of the PS4 plus club, I have a bunch of games to download and play on whim to confirm some of that notion that we’ve reached some kind of brick wall with games (in much the same way that current music trends feel to me, too).

I’ve been on the hunt for a “hobby” that one can pick up and put down easily. I enjoy weaving, but it is fussy to get started and not something you can just pick up for five minutes or three hours, depending on your mood.

I wanted something more physical, something different than the scribble-scribble-type-type. So, this weekend, I purchased a basic set of woodcarving knives. I’m not much of a visually-oriented artist; I lean more towards music and writing (both of which are more on the cerebral end of the spectrum). I suck at anything remotely similar to drawing or painting. And I’m not convinced I have a good eye for photography after my recent experiments (nor the inclination to have absolutely nothing at the end of the day of effort to try to capture something). Plus I feel odd and self-conscious snapping pictures. However, I once was a hairstylist (and a better than decent one, at that), so I thought I might have a chance working with a sculpting media. Similar idea: removing of what doesn’t belong to reveal the latent shape within.

That’s not to say that woodcarving doesn’t have cerebral elements… But it is arguably more doing than thinking. Or, at least, there is a balance between the two.

Last night, I got tied up for about four hours trying to whittle out my first carving in basswood. I want to finish it a bit more before I show anyone, but for a first attempt at anything along these lines, I thought the raven’s skull I had carved out looks pretty decent. Not what I had hoped for, but about as good as I expected. Nothing I would sell on Etsy, but…

Woodcarving seems to be a bit more versatile compared to the other hobbies I’ve considered learning — at least for those quick pick-up/put-down types. And you can spend lots of money on tools, or you can spend very little. Obviously, I plan to spend very little until I can prove I can pick up some techniques and produce decent carvings. Still, it was promising that I got lost in my efforts last night as I explored how each tool worked for me.

5 thoughts on “Cut up

  1. Very cool! I just shared on IG, I am starting scrimshaw on walrus ivory. It’s very much like tattooing but on a hard surface. The other thing I want to try (similar to wood carving, which, when I tried it many years ago, I super-sucked at) is wood burning. I’d love to see your carving efforts! Send me pics anytime!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That sounds like a wonderful hobby-a connection to the old ways of doing things. I hope you will share your work here when you are ready.

    I got really into leather carving a few years back. I made bracelets, journals and even a few masks. I stopped because the price of leather got too high and I had made everyone I know all the things. 🙂

    Someday I dream of carving my own leather book cover.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😀

      “… I had made everyone I know all the things”

      I’d considered leather at one point, but wanted more versatility than making all those the items you mention above.

      I’m trying to decide what to make next: probably a fox, stoat, or hedgehog. I saw some carvings of some Norse gods a while back that I might consider emulating eventually, or a chess set.

      Liked by 1 person

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