Carving the Green Man with Micheal Zelonis-Part 2, Detail & Finish

Comments (0)
Green Man

When we last left our non-detailed, unpolished, lifeless Catalpa Green Man, he was still screwed into a jig fixture waiting to be saved!  To the rescue is Micheal Zelonis, our carving crusader ready with pfeil carving tools in hand.  Anyone hear a Batman theme coming on here!!  All seriousness aside, Micheal moves to the bottom of the Green Man image, works to put in a drop curve to the left and right leaves and the lower chin.  Using a #9, 1″ gouge he cuts across the leaves and lower chin, careful not to knock off any unintentional chunks as he cuts cross-grain.  “Let me re-state here that working with Catalpa wood, one’s tools must be very sharp as splintering is a concern,”says Micheal.  Once the desired depth and curve was reached, I used a #6, 3/4″ bent gouge to smooth the surface, and a #5 1/2″ gouge to clean up any unwanted cut lines.”

Micheal continues, “I started to feel a little giddy as I got closer to the eyes and surrounding areas!  I worked the leaves around the cheeks and brows primarily with the pfeil #8, 10mm gouge, and the #11 1/4″ veiner until I found that I did not have a small enough #3 to get into the small inside curves.  Fortunately the Roanoke, VA. Woodcraft store came to my rescue.  They just happened to have a pfeil #3, 4mm gouge in-house which I promptly went and purchased.  Once home, I was able to get into the tight spots and finish off the area.”

Green Man

 “Detailing the eyes took some time and careful consideration as I feel this attribute are the most important part of any face”, stated Micheal.  “I found I needed a smaller spoon gouge than I had, so I called my Woodcraft store and asked if they had a pfeil #9 3mm spoon gouge in stock.  They did not, so it was ordered on a Tuesday, and I got it on Thursday the same week.  I was happy it came in so quick.  I undercut the brow and leaves, deepened the eye sockets and with a 90 degree 3/16″ V tool I cut in the eye lids.  Not being comfortable with a knife, I began rounding out the eyeballs with a #3, 1/2″ gouge.  During this time I bought myself a new coarse India stone, and because I did not like the plastic box it came in, I made a wooden box of my own.”

Micheal found working the eyes to be actually easier than the nose was.  Once the eyeballs were rounded out and the lids cut in, he used a #9, 1″ gouge to cut in the iris, and a #9, 1/2″ gouge to do the pupils.  Using a side sweep cut he found this to be relatively easy.  Now with only the leaves on the upper portion left to do, Micheal began to really enjoy the downhill slope to the finish.  Taking larger cuts he went back to the #9, 1″ gouge, then to a #5, 3/4″ gouge for shaping the leaf.

Green Man

Beginning on the right side upper leaves, Micheal came up against the unstable wood he knew he would have to face.  During the carving this did not pose as much of a problem as he first thought, although some loose pieces of dark knot wood did come out that he would have rather kept.  Paying careful attention to the soft spots,  he learned quickly to cut into them towards the stable wood rather than away.  Micheal stated, “Due to the rustic nature of the subject, I like the dark intrusion of the area, giving contrast to the piece.  In finishing I used a #6, 3/4″ bent gouge, #3, 1/2″ gouge, and #5, 1/2″ gouge.”  All that remains now is to apply the finish.

To add to the dimensionality of the piece while hanging on a vertical surface, Micheal decided to back cut the carving.  This required another scrap wood jig, and some new bolt holes.  Micheal explained, “Once mounted I began with my trusty #9, 1″ gouge, working from the outer edge to the inner surface as to avoid any late stage fractures or splintering.  I started from the top edge, then flipped the work 180 degrees and worked the bottom, taking about 3/4 to 1″ off from the outer edge.  I faded the cut toward the middle, and left some dark area for contrast where I would later carve in my signature.”

Since Micheal references his learning from Chris Pye, we thought we would share an instructional Green Man video carving rendition from this artist to share with you.  Although it is the first video in the series creating the Green Man, you may subscribe to Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Workshopsfor the entire series on this relief carving as well as many other types and techniques on carving with Chris.

Green Man

The Finish:

“Being new to carving, and loving the process of things, I decided to make a home made finish that I learned about from Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Workshop.  I melted bees’ wax flakescarnauba wax flakes and pure gum spirits (all available from Woodcraft) in a glass jar, placed in a pot of water.  I boiled the water and stirred the mixture until it was clear gold in color (don’t do this inside as the fumes can be harmful), then let it cool.  I then applied the finish to the carving using a tooth brush and a hair dryer to melt the wax into the wood pores.  After letting the wax set overnight, I burnished it with a clean white athletic sock until smooth.  I found that I like the color of the finish and the smoothness it leaves on the wood surface.”

Some final thoughts from Micheal,

“I have always been an artist to one degree or another, both in amateur and professional capacities.  Although wood carving is new to me, I am able to apply a lot of what I have learned in other art forms to this one.  I believe this drive to carve is a God given blessing, and I have been inspired to give most of the proceeds from the sale of these works to the Roanoke Rescue Mission Clinic, from private sale as well as through the 2nd Helpings Cafe and Gallery here in Roanoke Virginia.”

“The subject matter I select is from life experience, influenced from other artists, and from the wonderful world of Gods’ creation all around us.  I have an ever growing list of images I hope to carve in the future that are drawn from these sources.  I hope to gain a little more speed with each carving I do, as I feel presently that these pieces seem to take me forever.  That being said, I truly enjoy this gift, and hope the art I create will appeal to a wide audience and be a blessing to those who benefit from its creation.”

We cannot add anything more inspiring than what Micheal has stated other than, Thank You Micheal for sharing your project and story with us.  We here at Woodcraft are honored by your talent, and are very appreciative of your patronage.

auf Wiedersehen!…Frank

Related Products


Write Comment

Write Comment

You must be logged in to write a comment. Log In

Top of Page