PREVIEW: How To Carve a Sweet Potato – s02e11
Learn how to carve a unique and funny caricature from a sweet potato. R. L. Owen aka Clausman (Barb’s other half) demonstrates his process with a basic knife and just a few carving gouges. After the carving comes the drying. R. L. shows you the best drying device. It’s fun and easy and always a surprise.
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Sculptors and wood carvers have something in common. First they select the rough material. Then they study and get to know it. Finally, they get rid of everything that doesn’t belong. That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it?
I’ve been married a wood carver for quite a few years and I still marvel at the magic! When Clausman selects the wood, whether Northern Basswood, Butternut, Walnut, or a Cyprus knee I never know what he has in mind to carve. I don’t ask questions or pay much attention until he declares that the piece is complete. There’s always a moment of, “Wow!”
Clausman received his first knife from his great grandfather who told him, “Always keep your knife sharp!” He definitely took that advice to heart and his knives, whether one he carries in his pocket or one he carves with, are always razor sharp. He even has a sharpening unit in the studio that sports 6 different wheels along with various sharpening stones for honing precision edges. Needless to say, I don’t touch any of those tools!
Carving gouges are important tools, as well. They come in all shapes and sizes and vary in price according to the country of origin and the material from which they are made. Clausman learned a long time ago that having the right tool for the job made the end result easier and quicker to achieve. I absolutely agree with him.
About 15 years ago when we attended a wood carving convention, we saw our first examples of carved sweet potatoes. I was amazed! I’d never seen anything like them and I had no idea what the figures where created with. When I asked the carver, I could hardly believe my ears. Sweet potatoes! That sparked a conversation about why the artist chose such an unusual raw material. I don’t remember much of our interaction, but I’ve always remembered the carvings.
Several years later, Clausman began experimenting with unusual items often found in the kitchen or grocery store. He carved peach pit monkeys and ducks from nuts but his favorite seems to be carved sweet potatoes.
He had a few failures along the way, but eventually developed his method of creating caricatures from sweet potatoes. The process shares a few things in common with wood carving, but not many! He uses some of the same tools and approaches the way he carves a face in a similar manner, but from there, it’s all a “different animal!”
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