Here are a flock of recently carved sheep, heading to Black Sheep Gathering, 2018. The dark sheep are made from glossy black Ebony wood, because….well the festival itself began in celebration of non-white sheep… and carries on strong some 44 years later. At Black Sheep Gathering we celebrate sheep of all colors: grey, brown and black.Because there are brown & grey sheep, I’m always looking for nice wood to represent them. Hope I find some in time for the show…Above: A block of Ebony, rough-cut on band saw, and marked for further carving with the Dremel tool. I carve many different shapes, always aiming to obtain a comfortable grip, since these hooks are handheld tools for the spinner. The black sheep still need their hooks, and I use piano wire for it’s terrific flexibility and strength.
Below: Did you know that wood can be white?! Isn’t that amazing? These white sheep are not painted. They are carved from the white wood of a Holly shrub, although I did darken face & legs. All wood has some variation, so holly can be bright white or off-white, and of course carry the random markings naturally occurring in wood, giving it nice character.
The carving begins here at the band saw (for me….the often intimidating step).From band saw to work bench, where that Dremel wand and the wide assortment of carving bits eventually transforms the wood into a spinning wheel hook / orifice hook / fetch-hook. Oh and a see a Diz tool lurking there; also sheep shape.
Above: Note the white-fingered tight grip and the blur of the rapidly whirring carving tip of Dremel tool. It takes hours to slowly carve away wood to reveal a shape. Hours in a small, quiet room, wearing a Darth Vader-like dust mask. In the show booth, I always keep a block of white holly to show the natural white wood, along with a partially carved shape; all to help customers visualize the effort required to carve our wood items.
Below: Sheep Diz tools. A diz (shown in use) helps focus the wool fiber through the hole and ~ seeming by magic ~ helps it cling together and you draw out the tubular lengths of wool. Roll it into a bun and set aside for later spinning.
Shown in figured, curly Masur Birch, with a shimmery satin effect.
If you make it to Black Sheep Gathering this year, be sure to stop by our Whimsical Ewe booth for a chat, and check out all the sheep hooks, diz, and needlefelt sculptures.
See you at the show!