This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
A Preliminary glimpse of the Gothic style in wood-carving was given in the first issue of Arts and Crafts, the design being a tea-tray, for flat treatment. Our model last month was in the Byzantine style, and to return now to the Gothic style is logical enough, for the Gothic style grew out of the Byzantine, and, as used in Germany in the early part of the Middle Ages, shows the rounded arch, and rounded vault, and other characteristics of its predecessor. The pointed style, with which one usually associates the term "Gothic," originated in Italy by the conquering Goths from Scandinavia taking a form distinct from all others, under Theodoric. From the tenth century to the fifteenth it flourished in Italy, along the Rhine, in France, and in England.
It is a geometric style, employing such Christian symbols as the trefoil for the Trinity, and the cinquefoil for the five wounds of the Saviour. Another marked feature is that it allowed, interwoven with the geometric tracery, the use of whatever plant forms belonged to the locality where it was used. Oak leaves are very characteristic of this style, and are used with blunt tips; and animals - even human figures - are employed in it. Some ornamental features, mostly historic, are the Tudor rose, fleur-de-lis, crocket, trefoil, vine, and scroll. The scroll partakes of the serpentine character of the Byzantine type, instead of being spiral. The Gothic style, unlike the Byzantine and Romanesque, has been preserved almost unchanged since the fifteenth century.
The illustrations on the next page show the complete design, the full size working details being given in one of the supplementary sheets. Oak is the best wood to use for our purpose. Always choose hard wood for your work. Carving in pine or white wood never looks crisp. The necessary stock seven-eighths inch thick and the making up are inexpensive. Of course, the several pieces should be carved before they are put together. The neatest way to put them together is to mitre them. It is better to have the stock got out by a cabinet-maker, as the legs are band-sawed. I strongly advise those persons not accustomed to use a jig saw, circular saw, or band saw, or even planer, not to touch them to get out stock; for I have seen cases where one or two fingers have been lost by inexperienced persons trying to handle these tools. It has not been my aim to advocate the carver getting out his own stock, for cabinet-making and carving are two very different branches, and a person may be very clever at one of them without knowing anything at all about the other. If he can do both, so much the better.
Be sure not to cut this design in a "finicky" way; have it bold and dashing. Keep strictly to the outline, of course. The tools must be in good condition.
The transferring having been done in the usual way, by means of blue paper and a dull point, and the design now being on the wood, take a large veining tool and go all around the outline. Before removing the background - which should be one quarter inch deep, and is done with a flat gouge - it would be well to undercut slightly the outline of the whole design, thus giving a little shadow. This must be done with those tools that fit the various curves. Place the wood on the bench and clamp it down, taking care to have a bit of wood or hard rubber under the clamp, to prevent it from injuring the wood.
Carved Flower-Pot Stand.
One-third of the actual size.
For treatment, see pages
Half of the Top View.
The actual size is 13 inches square.
Simple Horizontal Bands for Wood-carving.
After the background has been cut out, take a fluter and cut the line where the leaves roll over, and with the gouge make as much undercutting as may be necessary to show plainly that one part of the leaf rolls over another. There is not much modelling on these leaves. With a large veining tool cut the sunken midrib, also the ribs running from each point toward the centre of the leaves. Take a flat gouge, and, with the concave side down, round the leaves on one side of the midrib; then, with the convex side held down, hollow the other side of the leaf. This gives the twisted appearance so characteristic of the Gothic style. Be sure to give a slight undercutting everywhere. The stems roll over scroll-like, and should be bevelled toward the background. The background need not be even and smooth, only clear of chips and not displaying cuts that show the shape of the end of the tool.
On each side of the flower-stand there is a shield; this is quite in keeping with the Gothic style. The shapes of these shields can be varied to suit the taste of the carver, who can put his own shield and family device on it if he desires to do so, or a motto may be used. There is a section shown of the egg and dart moulding near the top of the stand. This moulding need not be cut perfectly smooth, but care should be taken to get good curves on it, and the shapes should be alike, as well as the size of the eggs and darts. One practical way of insuring this is to take a compass and space off the surface of the moulding according to the number of eggs and darts to be placed on it; then, taking a piece of paper and cutting it to the exact size and contour of the egg, place it on the moulding as many times as it is spaced off, and draw around it. This would obviate any risk of unevenness such as would be incurred by free-hand sketching, and vet the variety of stroke and cuts in carving these into relief will give the stamp of hand work, and takeaway any effect that might look mechanical from the spacing.
The top of the stand is seven-eighths of an inch thick, and has a moulding round it which is left plain from preference, as the top of the stand has flat carving upon it. An object should never be overloaded with ornament. Some places must be left plain to rest the eye. The carving on the top must, to conform to fitness, be in very low relief - one-eighth of an inch is sufficient. It is treated in precisely the same way as the sides, except as to depth. The top is fastened on by glued wooden blocks from the inside, or with blocks screwed on from inside.
A finish for this stand may be of shellac, well rubbed, or the usual beeswax and turpentine, mixed warm and rubbed in with a woollen rag, it simply linseed oil. Karl Von RydiNgsvard.
Gloves seem to be a necessity to some wood-carvers who have tender skins. These should wear "gants de Suede" two or three sizes larger than those for ordinary wear, for if at all tight they confine and restrain the free action of the hand, and will cause cramp.