Diary: MDF Sign, Birds, Deliver and Plywood

I really like the form or birds as a carved artifact, the Eames House Bird being an iconic example, although as I learned today this was not even designed by the Eames, as discussed here. Regardless I've wanted to create my own stylized ornament in a similar vein but had the intention for it to be carved out of a piece of solid wood and retain the original grain in the finish. It would also be self-standing, show a profile of the wing and not require legs attaching etc. Last week I was able to start playing with prototypes for this as you can see in the pictures below.

I often notice a blackbird in our garden who seems to strut around very much as if he owns the place (which in his world he may well do). Although they are not particularly lauded as a notable bird I always find them elegant and functional, which is generally a good design combination. So I started with various photos of blackbirds, tracing the outlines and then modifying to create a clean profile. I then modeled one side using Vectric's Aspire software, adding a leg shape and spending a bit of time adjusting depths, smoothness etc. with the sculpting tools.

This was setup with 2-sided machining to cut the first two examples in some Iroko wood. These came out well but there was some chipping on the beak and tail. So I setup a second pair, made them slightly larger and also adjusted their position along the grain of the wood to strengthen the areas that chipped off. These came out really well and you can see a photo below of the four next to each other with a couple of them having had finish applied. Overall its a really nice tactile design and I look forward to making some more of these to finalise the design and process. 

I also cut a sign for a local start-up gym (a friend of the people I share the workshop with). This was just cut in some MDF which will be sealed and sprayed. It cut really well using flat-bottom v-carving which clears material with a flat tool then adds the detail with the pointed cutter - this effect can be seen below. 

I was also excited to get a delivery of wood, including some nice pieces of walnut, maple and cherry which I am really looking forward to working with. This week though it looks like I'll be working on starting to carve the actual pieces of the mantel I'm working on for client. 

Lastly I went down to London on Friday to the Victoria and Albert Museum (typically know as the V&A) to see an exhibition on Plywood. I've written a short report with some photos of that here: V&A Plywood Exhibition.