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Animal and Bird Carving

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  #1  
Old 02-16-2009, 05:27 AM
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Default cardinal pattern

I have not carved birds yet but my wife wants me to start looking for a pattern for a cardinal. But wait...it gets better, she saw a Christmas tree (I don't know where) with cardinals and white doves as ornaments. Only these bird ornaments sat on the branches instead of hanging from them. I have some time to practice what I believe will be small birds 3 to 4 inches tall. I just don't know how to make it work. Has anyone seen anything like this? My guess is their may be some issues ballance and how they attach to the branch. (wire maybe) Has anyone seen patterns in a book or on-line for a bird that sits on a branch? I can modify the pattern to make it a cardinal, I just need the best way to securing to the tree without flipping over and hanging upsidedown. Does anyone have any thoughts?
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Old 02-16-2009, 07:17 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Al, you have proposed one heck of a project. I agree that the problem is going to be in attachment not the carving. The problem is going to be weight and its distribution. Christmas tree limbs are small and wooden birds are heavy in comparison.

One possibility that comes to mind is to do the birds in relief and to attach them at points where the tree limbs separate. This would give you at least two limbs for attachment and make it easier to hold them upright. But attachment.........have to give that some more thought.

This is going to be an interesting thread.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:20 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Paul,
Thanks for the reply, I am afraid that it may take quite some trial and error. I am envisioning a notch cut out of the bottom of the bird, but exactly where and how to best attach is the key while keeping in mind the balance of the bird. I am thinking that the birds will have to be a little thinner than normal (semi-flat) to cut down on the weight of the basswood. I was hoping someone has seen some technique that has application for this kind of problem.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:32 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Al, I have been thinking about this thread as I tried to do some carving on a bird. It might be possible to use the technique developed by the cottonwood bark carvers to get a 3D whimsical house. They leave the center hollow (reduces weight) and you would be able to expand the bottom of the bird somewhat to offer two points of attachment on the same limb. Might even consider cottonwood bark or cypress knee wood as either would reduce the weight even further.
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Old 02-16-2009, 08:58 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Blackhorse, interesting problem attaching the bird to a limb. My first thought is to attach a very small plastic clothes pin to the bottom of the bird. Maybe even try to put the clothes pin in a groove in the belly. If you use tupelo wood for the bird it will be a lot lighter. Let us know how you figure it out. Dick
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:58 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Maybe a snug strip or strap of rubber band along the belly of the bird? I agree with the others that the bird will have to be as light as possible. Anxious to hear how you make out.
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Old 02-16-2009, 11:32 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

We've got a few of those cardinals and doves....yeachh! But that aside, they attatch with simple alligator clips, like those used for test leads. I think those would be a bit stronger clamps than the mini clothspin, but either might work just as well.

It would be easy to drill a small hole in the "connector" end of the alligator clip and then attach it to the belly of the bird with a small screw. Or epoxy it on.

For solving the weight problem, you might try balsa wood. It's a bit difficult to carve but if you use really sharp blades, it should work. When painted, that surface of the balsa will toughen up.

Al
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Old 02-17-2009, 01:38 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Al,
Do you think you could take a picture of one of those birds? If they are all boxed up and hard to get to I completely understand. I like the alligator clip idea though. You really got me thinking now. I wonder how they hid the clip and if the breast and tail feathers hang over the branch. The good news is that she plans to put it on a very stout artificial tree that stands about five tall so the wire branches should be able to hold up a basswood bird. (My wife sets up four smaller artificial trees around the house for additional decoration so these won't go on the real tree...yep, she really goes all out!)
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Old 02-17-2009, 06:52 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

Boy I wish I could accomodate that request, Al, but those birds are packed away somewhere in one of 8 Christmas packing boxes up in the attic.

They are simple bird shaped styrofoam bodies with dyed feathers applied on them (pretty neatly done, though), the cardinal has a cluster of fiberglass strands for a tail and the dove has longer feathers for the tail. The clips are just attached where the legs would meet the body, and when they are clipped onto a needled branch, you really can't even see them. They are pretty small, about 1 1/2" long and only open about a quarter inch or so. They are the alligator type, not the "battery" type clips.

The clips are attached with either a long screw or pin, as they can be turned to fit branches that come out at different angles. If you check at a craft store you may be able to find some decorative alligator style clips instead of the hardware store types, but I think the harware ones would be a bit sturdier.

Al

Last edited by AlArchie; 02-17-2009 at 06:56 AM.
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Old 02-17-2009, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: cardinal pattern

If you search the back issues, there are several articles with patterns available for carving a life size cardinal. There is probabl y a ton of photos and info here on this forum alone. I have seen a number of carved cardinals displayed here. In one of the Butz books, there is a pattern and an section on carving the cardinal. Fianlly, there are dozens of photos of cardinals on the Internet. It's easy enough to use them to make a pattern. You don't even need to do any drawing. Just use the photo itself. Print it out and/or enlarge it to the size you want. BTW--an alternative to dealing with the weight problem of the bird is to make it smaller. I have seen plenty of miniatures on Christmas trees. Also a small slot from side to side on the underside of the bird would allow you to "sit" the bird on the branch using the branch itself to hold the bird upright. The branch would also hide the slot.

Bob L
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