This section is from the book "Arts & Crafts Magazine Vol1-2", by Hutchinson & Company.
(For Designs In " Viking" Style, See Following Pages.)
AN easy kind of wood carving for beginners is that in the Scandinavian style, or "Viking" style, as it is sometimes called, because the old Norse vikings made elaborate use of it in carving their "long ships," their implements of war and household utensils, while their women embroidered it on their garments. In point of simplicity it is only second to the Swedish, or "Allmoze" style, or "chip carving" as it is called in this country. As with the latter there is but one depth of relief. The style consists of interlacing bands, usually representing the long, twisted bodies of dragons. It allows of infinite variety in designing; the effect is exceedingly rich and pleasing; the labour is slight; in fact, there is more return for time and labour spent on this style than almost any other. As there are no projections of relief to split off, it is particularly well suited to pieces of furniture that will be subject to much brushing against, such as chairs, settees, and wood-chests, and it is also the best carved-line style for such objects as paper-knives, rulers, and tea-trays.
Half of the Sides and Ends of the Gothic Tea-tray (illustrated on pages 28 & 29), showng mitred corner.
This is a style that depends on beautiful lines for its effect, and as it shows up defects of drawing it is of great help to the pupil who is uncertain in his lines; and herein lies one of the greatest advantages of beginning with such work rather than with flowers, which no novice should attempt. Here he gains command of his arm and hand in making bold, flowing curves, and learns breadth of style, while in flower work his curves are small, his work choppy, while he digs out the modelling in a very scratchy way, for he is not yet ready for modelling. In the "Dragon" style perfection of outline is the principal thing.
There are three grades of treatment of this style, but for the present we will consider only the first one.
Having paid great attention to the curves of the design, which has been placed as accurately as possible on the wood, take a veining tool (the smallest size) and follow the outline very carefully all around the design. Then take a very flat gouge (one quarter of an inch broad) and remove the sharp edge left on the background by the veining tool, smoothing it into the rest of the background.
To hold the tools, place the four ringers of the right hand over the tool handle from left to right, letting the thumb pass under the handle. This hand is to supply the motive power. Then place the fingers of the left hand acrosss the tool, half the handle, half on the iron shank, the thumb passing under. This is to be the guiding or checking hand, and is to remain motionless, all movement coming from both wrists and the whole arm, of course.
Now take a fine stamp and stamp the background very closely; for it is desirable here to set off the design, as there is no variation of relief to give contrast between the pattern and the background. The next step is to take the flat gouge and represent the overlapping of parts; this is done by sloping the parts that run under down towards the parts that are to be represented as crossing over them. Be sure not to do this before stamping the background, else great confusion will arise.
Oak is not suitable for such small work as these knives and rulers, but mahogany, maple, and birch or box are. The wood for the ruler should be a quarter of an inch thick throughout. The paper knife should be a quarter of an inch thick at the end of the handle, which slopes toward the blade; so it becomes one thirty-second of an inch less in thickness. Half way from the handle to the tip of the blade the thickness of the blade has sloped to-one-eighth of an inch, and at the tip of the blade the thickness is only one-sixteenth of an inch.
A carving bench is not needed in the beginning. One of the advantages of the "Dragon" style is. that the work can be done on a kitchen table or any ordinary table, if only it be stable, and have a sufficient projection to allow the acamp to be fastened on the edge to hold the work firm. Use a strip of thin wood - as cigar-box wood - between the clamp and the work, to prevent scratching. A bench not being necessary at first, the work can be taken into the living room.
Detail Of Carved Tea-Tray. (One-quarter actual size.) Carving In The Dragon Style.
After the carving is done, do not finish the articles by oiling, for then they will be ready to catch all the dust that flies, but "take, instead, some beeswax and warm it up in turpentine, and rub the mixture over the carving with a woollen rag; this gives an agreeable, dull finish to the work.