The 12 days of Christmas: elephant carving day 12

Before you know it we have reached twelfth night and the completion of my charging elephant.

Reality of course is that it has actually taken me about 9 months of on and off work to complete.


The final finishing element has been the tusks. They are made from antler, sourced from a National Trust deer park, where they take the naturally shed antlers and sell them to a walking stick maker. I had the tips of a couple of the antler spurs, too small for use by the stick maker.










The 12 days of Christmas: elephant carving day 10

I am now at the finishing off stage.

It can take as long to finish off all those edges and surfaces as it takes to carve the elephant to this point.

Carving a solid 3 dimensional piece has its added difficulties. By definition, at some point you will be carving with, against, and across the grain. It is across the grain that needs the sharpest of chisels if a clean finish is to be achieved.

On my elephant the cross grain is at the rear and you can see where the grain has opened up where my chisel was not razor sharp. I had to resharpen the chisels and recut across this entire area to achieve the smooth finish I wanted.


The 12 days of Christmas: elephant carving day 7

Time to pay some attention to the rear end of my olifant. At this stage I am adding detail to the tail and general rear end.

In case anyone is wondering, this isn’t a spelling error, it is Africaans for elephant.

There is nothing like trying to copy an animal for gaining an understanding of its real shape. I used about 30 photographs from different angles to understand the true proportions of an elephant.

If you trued to sketch one from memory then trust me, you would be way out. Their legs are longer than you think, their heads smaller and their feet pads larger. Photographs, calipers and the ability to scale are vital tools and techniques.


The 12 days of Christmas: elephant carving day 5

With some carving work you need those odd boosts to the process to show that you are making progress. Here I have added the eyes. It is really way too early for this level of detail but I wanted to make sure that there was enough wood there and that the mouth, trunk, tusks etc were proportioned to the eyes.

Having said all of that I really just wanted to play with some detail.

It was also a waste of time because, as I added later body detail, it became obvious that the head was too large, and so the eyes had to go.