Stanton Park Ocean Scene

It's June 2019, I've been looking at this felled Beech tree for a while, I discussed with Ross ( Head Ranger at Stanton Park) maybe turning it into a huge Chinese Dragon. But I've decided that perhaps a better idea would be to turn it into some kind of ocean scene. That way I can do individual projects, finish them, then take a break.

Here the site is all set out per the parks requirements, all insured, fenced off, and ready for action!

I'm hoping to make this in the closest branch that you see on the left of the picture on the left...

Here we go!

In order to make the carvings as big as possible I've opted to make the fins separately and attach them once the body is finished. I'm hoping to carve the various fins for the creatures from the spare wood that I'm carving off. 

His right fin is added here, mortised into the body and glued with polyurethane glue. I've also sanded him a bit. I'm a little concerned at this point that he is vulnerable to the curious teenagers who like to break things... 

Detailing his eyes, nose and mouth by hand...

Pretty much finished here.

A bit of rain starts to show up the beautiful grain of spelted Beech.

Although he's only held onto the main trunk by his chin, as you can see he's still very strong. I'm sitting here with my full body weight on his tail. ( I weigh 18st! ) 

None the less some yob has put the effort in to break him off. :-(  Sigh. There's always one!

You can see here that I've decided to continue. I've repaired the seal by drilling an Iron bar into his head and into the wave that supports him, and I've marked out the second seal in chalk. I'm going to try and make him and all the subsequent sculptures moron proof!

Carving the rough shape. I've got to try and make this yob proof which means keeping as much of the supporting wood attached to the sculpture as possible.

This makes it more difficult, because rather than working round the body and head as I'd like, I've got the supporting timber always in the way.

So I'm not so happy with this seal, the shape doesn't seem quite right and he's not very dynamic.

I've also realised that I'm still quite disheartened by the damage to the original seal, and on top of that I'm not keen on doing the same thing twice in a row! So not my best work. I have to take his arm home with me each night because its likely to be broken off. (sigh)

So, moving on! I decided I'd get on with something more exciting. The biggest part of the scene, that I was going to do last, I'm doing now.

The shark is about 8 feet long and ten times bigger than my maquette. In this picture he's not finished but getting there.

I'm carving his dorsal fin here and this gives you an idea of his size.

My Daughter and her dog!

As usual I make a plasticine maquete. The shark will end up being about 10 times the size of this model.

It can be quite interesting making the maqete, for me it's one of the most important parts, I simply don't think I could do the main sculpture without one. It gives me an idea of where the tricky bits will be and highlights stuff that you wouldn't normally notice. As you can see here the shark, being a predator has his eyes facing forward, not stuck on the side like a fish, and therefore the head is shaped to allow for that line of vision. Also I learned that the bottom jaw is much smaller than the top, and has the most vicious teeth!  A shark is not just a pointy sausage with fins stuck on!

This is the first step, marking out the rough shape with the tip of the chainsaw.

Then removing the bulk of the wood around it. This was literally to become the hardest I've currently worked to produce a sculpture, primarily because the longest chainsaw  have is 18 inches long and much of the wood I want to cut through is 20 to 35 inches wide!

So as you can see I have to cut it all off in blocks of a size that my chainsaw can manage. This is a constant battle to line the cut in one direction up with the cut from another direction, if I miss, even by quarter of an inch, then I wont be able to remove the block! it can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming. Ultimately, before I 'find' my shark, I will have spent about fifteen hours of pure nonstop neck aching, back breaking, chainsawing!

I will also have produced a tonne of blocks and about 20 black bags of sawdust! It was nice to be able to give some of the nicer blocks to the local carving club!

Here, I'm starting to see the beginnings of the vision I had for the 'Ocean scene'...

I'm 'finding' him but I'm absolutely shattered! Wimp!

Starting to put a bit of shape in. I tend to do this a bit to early in the process, but it takes away some of the drudgery of the wood removal.

I'm thinking this is a good sign... I've started to put some more shape in, and I've added some teeth (serious overbite I realised on looking at the photos!) and marked out an eye. The good thing is I didn't do the fins! Someone put some scaps there, (maybe the teens?) and no one has kicked them off! Cool.

Here I've reshaped his head mouth and teeth, carved the 'forward facing' predators eye and put my own fins in place. (I saved and shaped these from the timber I cut away to find his body)

Below is the next stage of adding a dolphin following the shark...

Nearly finished here, just a flipper to find... His current one is a piece of scrap wood. The seal looks happy to have a friend...