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New to Chip Carving and I Love It!!!

Home Forums My Carvings! New to Chip Carving and I Love It!!!

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    Jonathan Biccum

    Good afternoon,

    My name is Jonathan and I discovered chip carving a couple weeks ago and now I can’t stop! I’m really enjoying this wonderful blend of drawing and woodworking, two things I’m individually fond of.

    Marty encouraged me to share a few of my first projects so here they are:

    Here’s the first one. I didn’t have the best compass (since remedied) so layout wasn’t the most accurate. I figured this would give me a chance to try both a standard 3 sided chip border as well as some curved elements in the rosette.

    I decided that a standard 4”x4” coaster would provide a great opportunity to learn while still creating something practical for use around the house or to give away to friends, etc.. Further still, I feel the fixed 4×4 canvas helps me get more creative with different ways to fill the same exact space. I want to try new shapes/styles…something different than what I just finished, and even play with breaking the typical linear way of looking at designs in that space.

    So here’s #2:

    As I was saying, something completely different. I wanted to learn about Barton style leaf work as well as have a coaster that fits our country home. This design was borrowed from one side of Barton’s Octagon box in his book Joy of Chip Carving (pg 122). I altered the design ever so slightly so it wouldn’t be a direct copy.

    Coaster #3:

    This one was a special one. A good friend of ours, and former priest at our old parish, came through and spent a night at our place on his way across the country. It also happened to be his birthday so I wanted to try to have a little something for him as a gift. I thought the St. Benedict medal could lend itself well to chip carving. I decided to take it a step further and add some ‘cracks’ and chips to give the impression of a stone tablet. I then finished it with a couple different grey gel stains to complete the stone look. I can totally see myself doing some more of this fake stone stuff. It was really fun!

    Coaster #4:

    This was the first time I experimented with designing on my iPad. It’s also the first time I tried using a darker gel stain to get a different wood tone. Honestly not really keen on my results for this one, but learned a few things and that’s the whole point of all this.

    Design-wise the rosette reminded me of a 50s-60s era drawing of an atom, but also a snowflake. The stars seemed appropriate for either and the border work was a chance to try some longer fine line carving. Overall it might actually be a little too busy, but I was able to cram a lot of different carving practice (including my first straight wall chips) into one small piece so in the name of efficiency it’s a win!  🙂

    Coaster #5:

    This is the first one I decided to give a name, and I called it ‘Inception’. I don’t really have an opinion on naming pieces but it just seemed appropriate this time. To my eye there are many intertwined layers that seem to have a depth to them and it reminded me of the same layered and intertwined world presented in the movie.

    I tried Danish Oil this time. Without a layer of sealer. This was because this particular piece of wood showed some nice curl figure and I wanted to see if the Danish Oil would bring that out. It did, but in some ways it’s still blotchy. I’ll try a seal coat first next time and compare results.

    Coaster #6 (sneak peek):

    WHAT A DIFFERENCE A KNIFE MAKES!!!  As I told Marty, I’m SO happy I sat on this design until I got a set of his knives. What a joy it is to have a tool that responds with such precision!

    As soon as I discovered chip carving, I felt that the Art Deco style would lend itself well to the medium. I borrowed some elements from the era and I hope have settled on something that suits the style well. It also allowed me the chance to play with the confines of the 4×4 canvas by creating ‘negative space’ around the perimeter, thus adding yet another layer to the design. Straight sided chips also feature prominently in this design as I feel they are stylistically appropriate, even though I find them quite a bit more challenging to execute well.

    Well that’s as far as I’ve come so far on this journey. I’ve loved every bit of it thus far and can’t wait to continue!

    Have a fantastic day!

    William McHugh

    Wonderful design work and experimentation! I hope you continue to post your future works. I am especially interested in the results of your imitation of stone carvings. I am interested in ancient celtic works in stone and have imitated them in wood. I still debate in my mind the wisdom of imitating stone vs applying the design as straight wood carvings. Keep up your work – you obviously have the eye and talent for chip carving.

    Jonathan Biccum

    Thank you for the kind words William. I also had the same debate as you regarding imitating stone, but I think certain things lend themselves well to it once in awhile, particularly ancient style pieces like the Celts, Egyptians, Greek, Roman, Aztec, etc..  It’s also quite a nice surprise for people when they handle a piece and are surprised to find out it’s not actually stone. If nothing else, it gives us yet another level of design to consider incorporating to pieces.


    Wow, You are doing rather well. I love your designs especially the fake stone one, it looks amazing. I haven’t had the time to practice much but that will change after I heal from shoulder surgery. Yes, I fell in love with chip carving when I saw a book on it on amazon bought it never stopped. Now I am waiting to see if I can get myself 2 knives from Marty lol. I am prolly getting the kit with the knives and sharpening kit so I can have the very very scary sharp knife… right to cut my thumb off. I know I know practice with correct whatyamacallit. Time for bed kids getting up for school in the morning.

    God bless, keep up the great work.


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