I got around today to starting a walking stick commission that i have had on the books for the best part of a year, if not longer, the reason i hadn't started it before now was purely because i was waiting for the blank to dry & season a bit, I realise many walking stick makers like to use their collected blanks within 2-6 weeks after harvesting them and generally dry/season them inside a shed, this blank however has been hanging horizontally outside since the day i collected it.
The main reason i wanted to leave the stick for so long before starting work on it was because of the detail the client wanted me to add to it, and although it would have been easier to carve a semi green stick than a seasoned one, i didn't want the detail int he stick to suffer as the stick dried and seasoned in, what, will be a warm environment, when it gets to it's new home, as, from what i understand, the stick, will be a display piece rather than a stick that will get used to walk with.
Part of the brief was to make a walking stick and to just go to town on it, ie a free reign to do whatever i wanted, the client also wanted a Wood Spirit carved into it, the stick blank lent itself wonderfully to having a Spirit carved into it as the very top section of the stick was more oval than round, and the orientation of the oval was perfectly aligned so when the stick was being held the Spirits face, once carved, looks forward along the path you are travelling.
Having spent some considerable time working on the Spirit, getting it's features just about right and in proportion, I'm loathe to add any further detail to the stick, i was going to add another Spirit to the stick, but the diameter of the blank is such that unless it's very lightly surface carved, the stick is not going to retain it's inherent strength, as it is, the Spirits beard already comes down the stick by three of four inches and i, personally think that adding more carving to the stick would detract from it, but hey that's not my choice, if the clients wants me to take the spirits beard down further then i will, after all, he's paying for it.
I might enlarge the area of the spirits beard, but I'm not sure, it's one of those things where you can keep adding things and you can go just that little bit too far and totally knacker up the project, don't know, i will wait to see what the client thinks, it's his stick and therefore his choice.
The stick itself, is Hazel and is about 5ft in length, the bottom has a full brass ferrule, whereas the top of the stick has just had the bark removed and them the join between white wood and the bark on the lower section of the stick has been carved down and sanded to give a smooth transition between dark and light, the effect is quite nice as the top of the stick looks like it has a cap on it, the lanyard is made fr5om leather cord and is finished with a hangman's noose knot.