Easy Tracing for Relief Carving
I thought for this Friday's Getting Started Tips that we might talk about tracing your pattern. My notes are for relief carving, if you have any ideas, techniques, or suggestions please add them!!! Do you have a favorite tracing media, or a favorite carving store where you get your papers, please add those links.
Patterns are traced to the carving wood blanks using graphite paper, carbon paper, non-carbon tracing paper (NCR), or by rubbing the back of your pattern paper with a soft pencil to coat the paper with graphite. For extra large projects you can use the Want Ad pages of your local newspaper!
Which ever tracing media you use, there are a few quick tricks that will make this step easy.
1. Tracing medias are inexpensive, use a new piece or one that has been used lightly for each project. Throw away those over used pieces of tracing media because to make them work you need to apply extra pressure to your pen or pencil, which can leave a score line in the surface of the wood.
2. Only trace those lines that you absolutely need to establish the rough-out stage of your carving. Since you will be removing the wood in each area to drop your elements into their depth levels, any extra detail lines of the tracing will quickly be lost.
3. Painter's tape - that Zombie green tape that you use around the window sills - is excellent to hold your pattern and tracing media in place. It is low tack and so leaves no glue residue behind.
4. Make several copies of your pattern - one to keep as a clean sample, one to mark your levels or any carving notes, and two or three that you can cut apart into smaller sections. Once you have an area dropped to its correct level in the wood, you can use those smaller sections to quickly trace in the next lines needed for shaping or detailing.
5. All tracing lines must be removed before you doing any finishing steps. Even light toned pencil lines can show through craft paints and wood burned detailing. Use a white artist eraser over the entire carving to remove the few lines that you missed. You can also use 320-grit sandpaper for lines that are hard to reach with your eraser.
Don't use the eraser on the end of your pencil - the light rust colored one, or those bright pink school erasers. Both are chemically dyed and can leave long, almost impossible to remove reddish streaks on the wood.
6. To remove that final light hint of tracing line, and any dirt and oil left from your hands during the carving process, I do wash and rinse my carvings with a light solution of water and Dawn dish washing detergent. This is a quick scrub brushing and rinse. Don't plunge your carvings into a sink full of water. After the washing, blot well with a towel and let the carving dry slowly.