Greetings fellow geeks!
I recently found myself in New York, yet again with Ray Villafane and a phenomenal sculptor/carver that’s quickly becoming one of my favorite dudes to work with, Patrick Burke. Each year, we create a large scale pumpkin display at the Bronx Botanical Gardens. This year celebrated Frida Kahlo, Dia De Los Muertos, and Jose Posada. As such, we created a tribute to one of Jose Posada’s famous calavera (skull) illustrations. For more on that, check out the Villafane Studios Facebook page, or visit the NYBG website.
On my way back home from a pumpkin carving event in Arizona, my entire bag full of every carving tool that I own, as well as a few new sculpting tools I picked up, was stolen right out of my luggage. So, shout outs to Newark, New Jersey for being such a nice airport to stop off at on the way back home. Hoping to replace a few key tools quickly, I had the chance to hit up the sculpture megastore, The Compleat Sculptor. I ended up picking up a few sculpture only tools and and just using some of Ray and Patrick’s tools to get by.
I went straight there from my bus in, so sadly, Ray and Patrick were already at the venue and weren’t able to accompany me. Although, I don’t think it would have been much different. Patrick comes with a plethora of fine wood carving chisels so, I can’t imagine he would have bought much and Ray, well, he appreciates fine tools but I have yet to see that man use anything incorporating sharpness, or precision and I constantly find myself harping on him about some of his primitive, caveman-like tools. Of no consequence, of course, as I’m sure you’ve all seen his work and while he might be better suited to use a rock, duct taped to a stick, than some of the tools he has, they seem to work great for him. That’s proof positive that its really more who’s wielding the tool, as opposed to how fancy the tool is. That said, to me, there’s nothing like a finely tuned, precision instrument, made specifically for the task at hand. Carving and sculpting are hard enough, why struggle with inferior tools?
Anyway, I wanted to share with you my pick ups. I have yet to use them, but I may end up writing a review on them after I give em a good run. I normally like to make my own tools from scratch, but I can’t resist grabbing some if they look real useful or just plain fun to use. Yes, I have a tool fetish and its a problem -I guess. Ive known sculptors who only use a few tools and get by just fine, but that’s not me. I really like tools… like, a lot.
So, incase you were interested in checking out some of the same tools, here’s what I picked up this time around.
-Stainless Minarette 1705S
-Milani Steel Wax Tool 37W05
-Wax Tool 17156
-Stainless Tool Fox 43281001
-Hax Scraper (set of 2) 4226813 – not listed on the website but in this category
-Handmade Hickory Rib – not listed on the website but in this category.
-Steel Tool #37 37W37
-Kemper WT12 Wood Modeling Tool
The last time I was able to visit, I was with a few of the guys from NECA about 6 or 7 years ago. If you ever have a chance to go to this store, DO IT! Its fully loaded with just about anything a sculptor could want, and then some. The staff is friendly and helpful. They will let you shop in peace, and walk behind the counter to take a closer look, if need be.
Now, I believe a sculptor should make the majority of their own tools because its usually the best way to get what you need. However, I do pick up some ready made stuff from time to time. When I do that, its usually a tool that can’t be made easily without proper equipment. This usually includes teeth that have been precisely and evenly cut in or something that has a weird bend in it.
I would also recommend visiting the store yourself since a lot of the tools there are handmade, so the edges vary slightly in their stock. While I will probably go in and tune up the edges of my new tools even further to what I want, its nice to have a better starting point.
I’ve been asked many times to share my process of making tools so, look forward to that. In the meantime, I’ll be scraping away at the Deathclaw sculpt with these new additions in anticipation of the release of Fallout 4.
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Smoke, and Garlic!
Greetings fellow geeks!
I’m back from Germany and wanted to share a little bit of my trip with you. On September 8th, I flew across the pond with my good friend and star
kurbis schnitzer pumpkin carver Ray Villafane, joined by fellow sculptors Patrick Burke, Nikolay Torkhov, and Jareon Van DeVlag to create a few displays for Ray’s “Hubbards” attraction. Basically, we use Hubbard squashes as well as similar, fruits, veggies, and gourds and by using Ray’s Schaumstoff foam arms and legs to create scenes that make people laugh, smile, blush, and say “awwww”. Sometimes they are carved and sometimes, they’re not. Most of this takes place at Ludwigsburg palace in Ludwigsburg. However, this year, we also set up a display at Spargelhof in Klaistow/Beelitz Germany which is right outside of Berlin!
On our days off, we were able to head in by the most elusive train on the planet – the RE 7 Bahn and see what the beautiful city of Berlin had to offer. Well, that was the plan anyway. It seemed no matter which way we tried to get lost in the city, we kept stumbling upon the same indoor/outdoor bar that lured us in with its intoxicating view of Neue Kirche in Gendarmenmarkt and knowledgable, man bun toting bar keep. The walls on the inside of the bar were lined with larger than life photos of nude women which, doesn’t do much to help mask the fact that you’re a dumb tourist who can’t help but stare at boobs and such. Especially when you get more than a sip of alcohol in you after a long walk from the train station on a hot day. Regardless, they make a solid raspberry mojito so, I didn’t mind at all.
We made our way to the Reichstag building, the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews in Europe, the French Cathedral, and more. All such breathtaking sights that need to be seen in person to truly appreciate.
On our work days, the Hubbards took Germany by storm with a bevy of humor and what we refer to as “right up to the line inappropriateness”. Its always fun to make these displays since it affords you the opportunity to
work out some deep seeded childhood issues become a comedian. An idea will pop into your head, and once you start working on it, it can change into something completely different that ends up turning into something hilarious. Making people laugh is a good feeling. Making a lot of people laugh is an even better feeling. Check out the Villafane Studios facebook page for more photos of the displays we created.
Its always an adventure with Ray. Especially walking through the city. We couldn’t find the correct train and very narrowly almost missed the last one out of the city and back to the hotel. As I was reading the map of an info booth all in German with no “you are here” arrow, trying to figure out where the hell we were and where the hell we were supposed to go, Ray wandered off to battle a serious case of the munchies by searching for the last, open tiny train station bakery that could provide him with just the ammunition to do so. He returned with some waffles. We were almost forced to sleep in the station and wait for the first train out in the morning. Ray would have been fine with that and I probably would have too, had it not been for the thought of having to go through a full work day without showering from the day before. After coming across a very nice person who happened to speak English, she led us to the correct station, praising Jesus the entire way, she almost converted me… until we found that the place she led us was closed for a holiday. Welp, guess I can still eat meat on Lent. Somehow, we stumbled upon the correct station and platform. We caught the last train out for the night. Coincidentally, that made it no easier to find, each and every time we had to take the very same train back.
We didn’t get much sleep, since we got back so late. But we made it to work on time, albeit very tired and worn out from the 14 plus hours of walking we did. The press was scheduled to be at the event early the next morning. They usually ask to have a fresh pumpkin carved, and ready to go so that they have something good to show to everyone as most people still don’t understand the concept of 3d pumpkin carving. As a result, we’re no strangers to carving pumpkins in hotel rooms to help things run a little more smooth. So, that night to prepare for a morning interview, still with basically no sleep, Ray needed to carve a pumpkin and I needed to process some photos. He was carving away and I was sitting there watching for a bit as we both finally started crashing. He got up from the chair in the bathroom where he was carving and lied on the floor and within about 4 seconds, fell asleep so hard that if he wasn’t snoring like a lumberjack, I may have googled the German translation for “holy shit my friend just died on the hotel floor” so that I could try to yell it at the top of my lungs while running through the halls. 911 doesn’t work in Germany, so that would have been my next immediate course of action. Luckily he woke back up within 6 minutes. I told him he should probably get some sleep. He proclaimed, “Nah I’m good for another hour and a half or so!”. Don’t know too many people who can keep that up. But, Ray can… call it a fearless, can do attitude. I call it “retard strength”. Off to bed I went.
All in all it was a blast! Met some really cool people, got to carve a few pumpkins, saw some really cool sites, had some great food and the most delicious beer on the planet which I just so happened to smuggle across the border to enjoy with my better half. I couldn’t help myself, I’m a loner Dottie…a rebel.
I’m back in the studio for a minute, so I’ll be continuing work on the Deathclaw. Check out The Sculpture_Geek Instagram for updates on that. There may also be an upcoming contest depending if time allows. Until next time.
Smoke and Garlic!