It’s just a roll of brown contractors’ paper. About twelve dollars a roll. It’s probably one of the most basic tools in the shop. And at that price, it’s one of the cheapest. But I couldn’t do much of certain types of carving without it. 

Not everything is computers these days; you have to draw something out sooner or later to see if it fits and looks good. You could draft this on a computer, run it off on a large-scale printer, and then play with it. But using some Copenhagen Ships Curves, French curves, brown paper, and scissors to make this template was easier and cheaper to do.

You’ll find that a good pattern gets stored against future use. When doing this sort of stuff, do the intelligent thing, save the turmoil of digging through a collection of similar items, and label things like date created, project, customer, and vertical or horizontal orientation. How do I know? Let’s say it falls within the category of do as I say rather than as I do.

The second photo shows that this banner will have a significant amount of relief and curvature. I could do that with a thick piece of wood, but that’s pretty wasteful, expensive, and not necessarily the best approach. In this case, the ends are glued up from two pieces. I’ll carve them into curved shapes as needed. There are a few ways to make this sort of banner work. The easy way is to keep the area where the lettering will go flat. But if you wish to live dangerously, make all the surfaces curved. If you go the curved route, you’ll need a paper template with printing to naturally alter the lettering to fit the curvatures. Someone better at drafting might be able to freehand this, but I like the security of the pattern. The final photo shows how this effect came out on a large banner I did years ago.

No fancy tools, no drafting programs. Just brown paper and pencils. Amazing what technology can do these days.

4 Replies to “Curves”

  1. I have only carved wood once in my life. That was in my college sculpture class. I bought mahogany and started carving. I had something in mind and I carved it. When I was finished, and showed my brother he said — accurately — “You just carved your first baseman’s mitt.” Makes sens, though. I KNEW that glove inside and out and it had wonderful connections for me, but I didn’t KNOW that’s what I was doing. The wood was even the same color… I still have the tools, all but the mallet which was the coolest part, for me. It was made of lignum vitae. All this to say that that one experience taught me how difficult this is and how much vision, patience and skill it takes.

      1. Auto- carving, interesting. I used to freeform sculpting the same way, follow the grain, and whim, and more often than you’d expect interesting results turned up. but I discovered that people wanted explanations about what it was, and weren’t satisfied with ” I don’t know.” So I found myself making up stories to satisfy their need for knowledge. After that I totally disrespected artists statements.

      2. Artists statements are awful. I like talking to people about my paintings, that’s one thing, but writing something about me? I have one on my page of available paintings.

        It was an intro to sculpture class and our teacher was (apparently) trying to introduce us to different media. Here’s a story:

        And a follow up:

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