Chris Pye has written many wonderful books about woodcarving. I just went to his website and noticed a list that might be in one of the books, but if it is, I missed it there. Six things you need to be a woodcarver:
- A place to carve.
- A way to hold your work.
- Sharp tools.
- A way to sharpen tools.
- An idea.
Wow. Somehow they seem much more manageable when presented in a list like that, and less overwhelming. Can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve struggled with #2, although it’s pretty reliably solved now and I have a stack of additional ideas to experiment with. My early carvings were big enough to self-support; didn’t tip, didn’t move at all. Started having trouble when I went to smaller pine, and then even more with smaller carvings.
Now I have three carving stands and a vise and … and … and some other ways and it’s not a problem.It will be nice when #1 is no longer a problem, too.
For the time being, #4 is covered by the nice people at Wilson’s Garden Equipment. Some carvers make a lot of noise about sharpening one’s own chains but I don’t have it yet and I’m not alone in that. So pay the piper and get sharp chains and don’t worry about it.
#5 gets better every weekend, and I’m drowning in ideas for #6. Not a problem there.
January 2017 update
I wrote this post in 2011. Just recently, I’ve been thinking, “I need tools and a system,” and as I started to think of how to write that post, I was mentally adding, “and raw material, and skill with tools and material, and a place to work.” No wonder it all felt so familiar.
The list applies to all forms of art, and probably all forms of work. Will revisit.