5 September 2019

Woodcarving of Swifts

When my daughter asked me to make her a trophy for her keep fit gymnasium, I came up with the idea of this pair of swifts in flight over the rooftops. Each swift comprises of eight separate pieces of Wenge wood glued together in such a way that the distinctive wood grain shows up a little like feathers and renders the sculpture less liable to split. Wenge is an African hardwood not previously used by me. It tends to blunt tools quickly but finishes well and is quite durable.

Two further pairs were made to be gifted to William and Matthew, I chose a slightly more swept-wing shape with a narrower chord. The bodies were also slimmed a little and set with glass bead eyes. The twin pairs each have one with wings raised and the other with wings drooped.

Each wing was chamfered and joined together with a centre section scarfed between them. The body is built up with two laminations below and one above the wings. Thin separate tail feather pieces were slotted in a saw cut made in the tail after the body was completed. Carving from one single piece would result in loss of strength and consume five times as much wood - prohibitively expensive! I finished by applying my own blend of beeswax and flax oil and mounting the pair onto a base of English Oak and Red Oak.

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