is a sketch I did (left) for the pirate figurehead. I submitted a
number of drawings for this particular company. Here is another
Let's start with
the process of carving this nearly full-size Pirate figurehead.
Carving this pirate, I
became really absorbed in the history, and mystery of piracy-
corsairs, buccaneers, filibusters and freebooters - for
good or bad. Sometimes governments licensed private ship-owners to
attack the merchant vessels of another country with whom they were
at war. These lawful pirates were called privateers and they shared
the profits with the government.
seafarers like Francis Drake turned pirate from time to time. Many
governments secretly supported pirate expeditions, provided the
pirates shared the booty with them. Treasure chests, pieces of
eight, booty, shipwrecks etc - magical words indeed. I guess there really IS a
kind of 'swashbuckling glamour' to their stories.
Here is the upright
laminated block of Beech timber. Gluing-up was done parallel to the
ground. Resorcinol - (polyphenolic formaldehyde), was
used - an excellent marine glue where high water resistance and
Especially tropical climates, where this figurehead is
destined. Grain is running
the same way and end grain is kept away from the face area
(difficult to carve).
is the first cut
of the figurehead. In this particular case I used an arbortech carving wheel attached to an angle
grinder, to arrive at the right overall shape, along with some heavy
gouges for controlled splitting of the wood.
important to keep a visible middle line drawn from the top of the
head to the base. This keeps your eye on the whole balance whilst
you carve, stepping back from time to time to see the overall
carving for proportions.
I've also started to carve the scrolls on each side,
the center. These will need to become much deeper later. I
have cut the shape of two sails at the back of the pirate.
I have drawn a
pistol on the front of his body, but later I will have to
carve two full-size pistols and cut them in half, dowelling
them inside his right hand and to the body, tucked into a cumber bun and
small belt just below the waist.
figurehead is now shaped correctly. Pistols have been carved
separately and dowelled in. The ears have been carved.
Important to keep correct proportions and dimensions for ears, nose,
eyes, mouth. The belt across the chest in worked on next. Then
the neck muscles are carved.. Carving of the neck contours is very important. This
gives a visual impression of tension and strain. Important for a
pirate in this pose (ready to attack). A scar has been carved in on
the left side of the face.
A hole has been drilled into
the left hand to carry the cutlass.
* The careful study of the human
anatomy greatly aids the carvings of this nature.
Looking at the figurehead
from this angle, you can see the timber laminates. Some timber
planks run parallel and some run vertically. One must study the
correct placement of the planks of wood at gluing-up time for
carving stability, strength, detail, grain and wood rings.
The bowsprit has been
laminated and turned. The end has been carefully anchored in the
back plate. There is a dowel also anchored in the top of the
figurehead's head and the bowsprit for strong
stability. Apart from a couple of dowels to strengthen key places on
the figurehead, the resorcinol glue is strength enough.
The timber has now been
treated against pest infestations and fungal attack with special
wood solutions (turning a little pink). Important for export,
especially to island states of the world.
Here is the painted pirate. A
crossed cutlass and pistol have been carved (incised), below the
waist and below this is a painted square rigged ship. He is
seen here holding a real pirate's cutlass in his left hand.
This pirate figurehead is destined for a Museum. It was recently shipped
to the Seychelle
Islands - off the east coast of Africa.
to my Main Carving Site
a Mermaid and Britannia figurehead