Niagara Woodcarvers Club

Discovering the Wonders of Woodcarving

Creative Ways to Use Small Pieces of Drifrwood

Creative Ways to use Small Driftwood Pieces
Whether it’s a small but interesting piece that was found lying on a beach or leftover bits from a larger project, small pieces of driftwood can be used to make wonderful projects too. In fact, many small pieces can be combined by using wood glue and can once again become a larger piece, sometimes blending so perfectly that it’s hard to distinguish it as several pieces.

Preparing and Crafting Driftwood

Regardless of size, before beginning any wood project that incorporates driftwood, it is very important to make sure that all wood is properly sanitized and thoroughly dried. You need to clean and cure driftwood. The boiling or soaking method may be the best choice for small pieces. Small pieces can be dried in an oven on a low heat or even in a food dehydrator overnight.

Creative Ways to use Small Driftwood Pieces - carving knives and chisel
Useful tools for working with driftwood include carving chisels, carving knives, jeweler’s pliers, sandpaper or dremel, wood stain, wood preservative and wood glue. Hot glue may also be used for some projects but tends to remain visible and is not suitable for most jewelry. Additionally, a drill with a small bit is great for creating beads or holes for hanging.

Easy Projects for Wood Piecework

Creative Ways to use Small Driftwood Pieces - designs

You can start your woodworking project with a very basic sculpture. To do this, you simply need to outline the design on the driftwood and use a carving knife to get the shape and fine details of your design.

Beads are also fairly simple to create. Using jeweler’s pliers to hold the wood, begin shaping it to desired shape with sandpaper or the dremel tool. Some people may find it easier to drill a hole first and then trim or sand the wood down to size especially when working with round beads. After the bead is shaped, use wood stain or preservative to seal in the color. Just hang the bead from a wire, dip it into the solution and then hang it up to dry.

Another easy project is assembling pieces together to outline a picture frame, vase, or bowl. These pieces can be trimmed, sanded, stained and then glued onto the surface to be used. Frames can even be made using just the driftwood. Cut the pieces to the length and width of the frame and then use wood glue to secure it together. Create a single level frame or sandwich a piece of glass between two frame sets to give it added dimension.

For terrarium or shelf décor glue two or three “branches” at different angle onto a larger piece that will serve as the base. Alternatively, one may want to glue a “trunk” with branches onto a flat base and use it as a jewelry stand for necklaces and bracelets. Imagination is the only limitation in working with driftwood. Pick up some driftwood and start a project today.

Read More

Port Dalhousie Carousel – Description and History

Port Dalhousie CarouselOn the beach at Lakeside Park, Port Dalhousie, St. Catharines, you can still ride the carousel for a nickel. This antique carousel is one of the largest and best remaining examples of a Looff menagerie carousel. Four rows deep with 69 carousel animals including jumpers, standers and a gigantic lion, goats (prancers), giraffes, and camels.

According to the National Carousel Association (US), this carousel was built in 1903 by the Charles I.D. Looff Company, of Riverside, Rhode Island. Each animal was hand carved in the Coney Island style. Stately jeweled standers guard the outside ring, as jumpers on the three inside rows gallop into the wind.

Lakeside Park in which the carousel is located, was originally operated jointly by the Canada Railway News and the Niagara, St. Catharines and Toronto Railway. It was part of an amusement park, of which the Carousel is the only remaining ride.

In 1921 the N.S.&T. Railway purchased the carousel from Toronto, probably from Hanlan’s Point.

From the City of Toronto Archives Image Database you can see a photograph of Hanlan’s Point in 1911 by William James. On the left side of the pictures you can see the merry-go-round building. Photograph Fonds 1244 Item 122A

Another possibility is that the Port Dalhousie carousel came from the Scarborough Beach Amusement Park. But the Scarborough Beach carousel was not put up for sale until September 1925. From the City of Toronto Archives Image Database, you can see pictures of Scarborough Beach Carousel beside the Water Chute.

From 1950 to 1970 the carousel was privately owned by Mr. Sid Brookson. In 1970 Mr. Brookson put the carousel up for sale asking $25,000.

Rather than let the carousel leave Port Dalhousie, Mrs. Dorothy Crabtree a local antique dealer led a campaign to raise enough money to purchase the carousel. The students of Brock University, Niagara College and the local high schools were all involved in canvassing for the carousel. A walkathon raised $8,000, but by the deadline Mrs. Crabtree had only $20,000. Mr. Brookson, the carousel lover that he was, lowered the price and Mrs. Dorothy Crabtree had a carousel.

Turning over the ownership to the City Council on July 17, 1970. Mrs. Crabtree suggested that the price of the ride remain at 5 cents and the City of St. Catharines agreed to take over operation and maintenance.

In 1973 the carousel was threatened by flood and was dismantled and stored. While in storage fire damaged 23 animals May 12, 1974. Local high school art students were involved in the restoration of the charred and paint blistered animals. In 1978 the threat of high water agian forced the removal of the animals and they were stored at various locations in town.

A new building was constructed further up the beach and the carousel reopened in June 20th, 1981.

In 1983 City By-Law #83-127 gave the carousel historic designation under the Ontario Heritage Act.

Currently, some repairs need to be made and the animals need to be repainted. Niagara Woodcarvers have agreed to help the Friends of the Carousel with the repairs.

Read More

Gifts and Present Ideas for Artists – Sculpture Tools & Materials

Kids or adults, experts or dabblers, sculptors love to receive presents related to their art. Encourage kids interested in claymation, wood carvers, jewelry makers, and other sculptors with these gift ideas, and show an artist in your life that you are interested in their work.

GIfts for Woodcarvers - carving toolsGifts for the Woodcarver

Woodcarvers can use either power or hand tools, or a combination of both. If you have a store in your area that specializes in wood carving supplies, that is a great place to start. You don’t need to be knowledgeable yourself, but explain that you’re looking for a present for a woodcarver, and the types of carving they do, the staff can help find a nice piece of wood and some appropriate wood carving chisels, mallets, knives, or a pattern.

It’s also possible to gather wood yourself, keeping in mind that it needs to dry slowly Gifts for Woodcarvers - chainsawfor several months before it can be carved. You’ll find wood tutorials on YouTube if you can’t find a store nearby. Chainsaw carvers like the softness of pine, but harder woods are preferred by hand carvers. A new chainsaw, chainsaw blade, or a gift of having a blade sharpened along with a tree trunk will be welcomed by chainsaw carvers.

Sandpaper, stains, and oils used for finishing wood carvings make good stocking stuffers for the woodcarver in your life.

GIfts for the Jewelry Maker - glass beadsGifts for the Miniaturist or the Jewelry Maker

Miniatures and jewelry often require magnification. A stand magnifier or a small electric kiln make great gifts. Sterling silver clay and wire, and a few strands of semi-precious beads, or some unique glass beads would make any jewelry maker happy. There’s also some wonderful mold making materials available for miniaturists and precious metals sold in small sheets.

Gifts for Clay Artists

Gifts for Clay Artists

There are many varieties of clay for sculpting. Some never harden, others air harden or harden in the low heat of a regular oven, others need to be fired in a kiln. Clay can be homemade or purchased, and tools for working clay can be simple everyday objects or purchased from an art store.

Found Objects to Become Part of Sculptures

Repurposing objects for sculptures

Some sculptors specialize in repurposing found objects into sculpture. They are happiest surrounded by other people’s junk, envisioning it as something entirely different. Before throwing out items well past a useful life, offer your discards to a sculptor that works in found objects. Or rescue interesting objects from the dump, throw in a bucket of nuts and bolts, and you may get a whimsical yard sculpture in return.

Sculptors who work in metal use welding torches and spray paint. Arc welders and accessories like fire resistant aprons and eye protection are good accessories an artist may need or want.

Creating sculpture for a hobbyist or professional artist satisfies a creative need. Receiving the encouragement of family and friends through creative presents is a gift any artist would love. A gift of sculpture tools and materials may just spark creative happiness.


Read More

Learn to Carve a Unique Wooden Chess or Checker Game Set

Learn to Carve a Unique Wooden Chess or Checker Game SetEver thought about making a unique checker or chess board that is completely personalized to the intended recipient? Sometimes the simplest projects are the easiest to overlook, but with a bit of flair from a woodburning and carving tool these old style games icons come roaring back in style with a new look.

Blending Intarsia and Woodburning

Intarsia is the beautiful art of carefully cutting and blending different types of wood together to create a new and unique look that appears seamless. The goal is to cut the pieces to fit so that they will maintain their form without the aid of wood glue, however there are no rules against using wood glue to seat the bond permanently.

One of the most interesting things that intarsia brings to the mix is the vast assortment of wood types to choose from. Some woods maintain their shape and color much better than others so before beginning a project on intarsia spend a bit of time reviewing the available woods and their properties. A partial list can be found here.

Within the intarsia framework the woodburning pen can be used to draw pictures, add shading and create depth and dimension to an individual image. These same techniques can be easily transferred to the game pieces themselves as the project progresses.

Building the Board and Individual Game Pieces

To build a game board carefully measure the outline of an existing game board to determine the proper placement of the interior squares. To make the process easier create a template for cutting multiple pieces. Most hobbyists prefer to use a scroll saw or band saw for making faster and multiple tight precision cuts. For intarsia, hobbyists will want to use wood types that resist shrinkage since intarsia relies on a snug fit.

Learn to Carve a Unique Wooden Chess or Checker Game Set - carving toolsIndividual pieces should have a common height and base. When working with small pieces its helpful to set up a proper work bench with grips or vices that allow the hobbyist to work with both hands for smaller cuts. Once the shape has been established using woodcvarving tools, hobbyists can go over the piece again with a woodburning tool to create added depth and dimension.

When using the woodburning tool its important to remember that a quick light stroke will give a soft line while holding the pen tip to the wood longer will create darker burns. Light strokes can always be darkened later if necessary.

More Wooden Game Creation Ideas

Learn to Carve a Unique Wooden Chess or Checker Game Set - wooden games

Having a tough time coming up with the next project? Start with a simple dice or domino set and build from there. Try adding intarsia inlay to the board itself to make a dramatic impact. With intarsia each block can contain its own picture story. When ready to move on to a different game, consider Mahjong, dice, dominoes, backgammon and more classic games. Let creativity be a guide and follow it wherever it leads.

Read More