Blending old ways with new

I love working with my hands with old fashioned tools. But I also love modern technology and the very latest tools. They are not mutually exclusive but instead can be used together to make some pretty cool stuff. In our shop we blend both the old and new to create our art. I used to draw with pen and paper. Now I still start my sketches that way in my sketchbook but my drawings are finished with a digital pen and tablet. The images are only on the screen until I print them out. In the shop we have tall cabinets full of every hand tool imaginable. But in the back room is a massive state of the art four axis CNC router that does amazing things.

By embracing both old and new ways I can produce work faster and easier than ever before. The new ways allow me to do things I could previously only imagine. 

The Town Crier Whiskey piece I am working on now is a wonderful example of how old and new are blended seamlessly to produce our work. The first sketch was done in ink in my sketchbook, then the final drawing was done at my desk, with manual input but digital output. Doing so allowed me to manipulate my image and adjust things as I went - something I couldn't do without redrawing from scratch again and again previously.

I designed the lettering and background of the sign as a routing file on the computer using powerful software. The rough draft of the town crier was done as a digital sculpt, then sent to the CNC router to be carved out of Precision Board high density urethane - all automatically. It was pure magic as I watched the machine reveal my digital sculpt from the block. What was previously only and idea suddenly was real.

Once the machine had done it's work, it was time to begin the hand sculpting. Once again we blend the old with the new. While I used old fashioned tools, nothing more than a sharpened stick and my fingers, my medium was a modern epoxy sculpting medium called Abracadabra Sculpt. It hardens in about three hours. With the routed form as an armature it was quick and easy to build up the features and add details. I've learned these kinds of sculpts are best done in stages so I don't mess up what I've managed to accomplish. Tomorrow I'll do some more, working at the piece in bits and pieces until it is complete. The sculpt is still rough but it is showing a lot of character already.

In the next few days I'll be showing how this art piece will come together with every trick and tool in my arsonel, both old and new. Stay tuned...

-grampa dan