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Tips From the Judges

Tips From the Judges

1. Dust your carving - Use something like a soft brush to remove sawdust and packing material bits. Maybe try a little baby oil on glass eyes to restore the wet look.

2. Make clean cuts - Clean out slivers, wood buggers, re-cut or sand tear-outs . Paint will not fill or hide bad cuts but instead accentuates poor carving cuts. These alone are responsible for losing carving prize money.

3. Carve round and with curves. Flat spaces, saw marks, straight lines are poor form. Square blanks left square will be pushed aside.

4. Use a strong light on a flex arm to carve. A good adjustable light source will allow you to see shadows and trash in shadows.

5. Know your subject - Research your subject and know the anatomy, habitat, and characteristics. Know and understand how hair, feathers, muscles, joints, and skin  are connected and attached to the skeleton. One of the judges will know these things and will share with other judges.

6. Try something new or original in each carving. This is especially important when carving from rough-outs. You can change a mass of wood from what it was intended or you can add a new arm or leg to make it different.

7. Tell a story - For example: "Sad clown with a broken balloon." Don't just stick an object on a base and call it done. Evoke joy, sadness, love, sorrow, or some other emotion and you'll hold the judges attention.

8. Supporting objects - If it's on the base - it will be judged! Judges will defer to habitat and supporting objects when presented with "equal" carvings! Know the support items as well as you know the subject.

9. Composition not collection - A group or multiple components should touch to create a united carving to attract the attention of the viewer. Create a composition that blends together, not just a collection of objects.

10. Difficulty - Simplicity well done will generally beat a more complex, poorly executed carving. The judges like to see an attempt at difficulty - just make sure you make a serious attempt at it. This applies to big versus small also.

11. Symmetry - Pay attention to symmetry where it applies to legs and joints of the same length, hands same size. Symmetry and balance are important to composition. Break symmetry when placing feet, arms, paws, ... utilize more natural poses; do not have a mirrored look.

12. Prominent masses - The masses of a carving should not be equal, one should be prominent. When dividing a plane, have one subordinate to the other and smoothly blending into the larger.

Compiled by Charlie Arnold from Sculptures & Designs in Wood –2006 presentation by LarryRogers and Lynn Haneline. Edited by Tim Kendall