But I LOVE answering them! People can't help but be fascinated by what I get myself into sometimes and it's always sure to generate a query or two. Sometimes it's like cracking open a Pandora's box though...
WHY DO SOME OF YOUR CARVINGS HAVE A GASH DOWN THE BACK?
Wood cracks. See our guarantee for the full story. By cutting what’s called a kerf down the backside of the carving we are attempting to control the cracking by relieving the internal pressure of the log. Of course we’re still dealing with Mother Nature here and she often likes to joke around with us but at least we try. We tend to think the cracks give the carvings a life of their own. If anything ever split right apart on you let us know. We can fix it up with some good old fashioned glue and it’ll last you for decades longer.
DOES IT MATTER IF I PUT IT INDOORS OR OUT?
Depending on the finish your carving has been given it may be something suitable to bring inside or to take outside. If you know you want a piece specifically for display indoors a custom order is your best bet. That way we ensure that indoor-only preservatives and finishes are used throughout the process. Also it’s important to keep the carving up off the ground/floor to allow airflow and prevent the development of mold.
CAN I PAINT OVER IT?
You certainly can! All of our carvings are finished with oil based products which help to seal in the moisture and slow it’s escape. As long as you use other oil based products you should have no troubles with whatever finish you choose to apply.
Of course you should always test a small area first.
DID YOU DO ALL OF THAT WITH A CHAINSAW?
The chainsaw is certainly the primary tool in the tool box but I use a wide variety of power carving tools to get me to my destination in the best way possible. In addition to the chainsaws I use angle grinders, die grinders with crazy cutting and sanding bits, orbital sanders, x-acto knives and fire. I'm not allowed to take any more knives from the kitchen though.
WHY DO YOU BURN THEM?
Burning is subjective from carver to carver. I burn to ease the hard edges of the carving and to let the details pop out thanks to the colour contrast it creates. Another function of the burn is to dry the outer layers of the wood so that the oil based sealer I use can penetrate and protect the carving. Oil and water don't mix so we need to get the moisture out of those outer layers.
And I like to play with fire. I also run with scissors.
IS THIS YOUR 'JOB'?
I joke with people when I'm out ice carving that if I turned it into a 'job' it'd take all the fun out of it and it'd become work. But I was wrong. When I'm not carving I wear a different hat - one of an animator and graphic designer at my own bustling studio called Animatters. Animatters has been serving up creative solutions to all sorts of advertising and communications challenges since 2002. I'm lucky to be self employed. It allows me the flexibility required for things like attending to the needs of two young children and cutting out early from time to time to get set up for a carving demonstration at events or functions. Carving for me is a very serious hobby and one that forms a large part of who I am. It feeds my soul.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN HURT?
Luckily not badly. I've had several nicks and cuts but those were all back in the days when I was young and foolish. Now I'm old and foolish so while I still might be seen standing with one foot on a milk crate and the other hanging off the side of my carving tent just so I can 'make the cut' I'm at least wearing all the proper safety attire. I've seen some pretty ugly things though. These tools - all of them - demand respect. I have indeed caught my hand in a chainsaw before but I got lucky and the damage done was peanuts compared to the pain of the tetanus shot. Come to think of it, here was also that incident with the jointer...I was able to drive myself to the hospital though. I'll never forget the anesthetic...
And yes, my wife has a pool going on how many fingers and toes I have when I turn 60. If you want in on the action call her.
If the insurance company is reading this I'm only kidding. I use ladders and scaffolding and am always wearing all of my PPE. And the jointer had nothing to do with chainsaw carving. It's the pesky stationary tools that'll get ya.
I HEARD YOU BUILT A COFFIN. DID YOU?
I did. Sort of.
Friends of mine have a fabulous hearse collection and travel to all sorts of crazy places with them to meet other hearse and haunt collectors. I happened across this idea of a coffin couch one day and suggested that they needed one. They agreed, opened up their piggy banks and after about four weeks on and off we loaded a custom built coffin couch into the back of one of their hearses.
DID YOU SAY ICE CARVING?
That's where it all began for me. I've been addicted to the chainsaw since 1999 which is when I found myself at an ice carving workshop where I pulled the trigger on something that would change my life as I knew it.
You can check out that tangent of my world over at Cold Creative.