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Falada's Art Lesson Plans

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This is the Journeyman project of mute Harper Falada, whose sole talent lay in the visual arts.  Unable to produce a note to sing, she was able to devote all her time to these studies and as a senior apprentice began teaching these classes that follow.  They are recorded here as a set of guidelines for future artists to teach these same classes to future generations of harpers. 

Art Lesson Plans           

Lesson 1: Basic pencil drawing - drawing an outline, basic shading.

Lesson 2: Advanced pencil drawing - perspective, using charcoal pencils.

Lesson 3: Basic sketching - landscapes, still-life.

Lesson 4: Advanced sketching - people, faces, moving scenes.

Lesson 5: Basic watercolor painting - making and using watercolors, care of brushes.

Lesson 6: Basic oil painting - mixing and using oils, care of brushes.

Lesson 7: Basic Pottery - Clay types & uses.

Lesson 8: Intermediate Pottery - Hand building, making a pinch-pot, slab building, making a coil pot.

Lesson 9: Advanced pottery - wedging, throwing, drying, glazing, firing.

Lesson 10: Basic Woodcarving - knife use and safety, choosing your wood.

Lesson 11: Advanced Woodcarving - using stain, making a simple figure.

 

Lesson 1: Basic pencil drawing - drawing an outline, basic shading.

1) Review of basic supplies.

Three items are most important in pencil drawing: a pencil, some paper, and an eraser.

For this lesson, each student will need a sharpened pencil, a piece of paper, and a medium eraser.  The teacher, or teacher's aide, should pass these supplies out.

2)  Drawing an outline.

Everything has an outline.  It is what you would see if you were watching shadows behind a backlit screen, as in a shadowbox vignette.  It is the defining shape of an object.

(Some simple objects can be placed on the worktable for this exercise)

Start the lesson with each student drawing the outline of an item in the room.  Suggest that it be a stationary item, such as a chair or a table, or a small object provided for the exercise.

3) Beginning the details.

Inside the outline, everything has details.  Details are what make the object more than just a shadow.  A door, for example, may be drawn as a simple rectangle, but to show what it looks like the artist should add the doorknob, or the window, or perhaps the hinges.  Details give a certain amount of depth to an object.

Once the students have completed the outline drawings, point out that each object has, inside its outline, details.  Such as a chair may have rungs on the back, or a box may have a hinge and a lid.  Have the students pay attention to these details now on their selected studies and add them to the drawing.

4) Basic shading.

Using the side of the sharpened pencil, one can make a smudge of pencil.  With this one can give the effect of shadows.  Show how a light source causes each item to cast a shadow and have the students experiment with their own work, giving their drawings shadows.

 

Lesson 2: Advanced pencil drawing - perspective, using charcoal pencils.

1) Review of basic supplies.

Pencil: Pencils can be made of charcoal or lead, though charcoal is best for drawing.  They come in different degrees of hardness, the hardest being for line drawing, the softest for shading.  It is good to have at least three for a lesson in basics.

Paper: It can be of any weight or texture, and these properties will factor in determining the outcome of the finished product.  For this lesson, it is best to use a light, slightly textured paper.

Eraser: This is used for more than just removing the marks from the paper, and like the pencils, comes in different types: soft, medium and hard.  Which to use is determined by what you want to do with it.  Soft erasers are commonly used for shading, smudging and spreading the medium.  They are pliable and able to be manipulated easily.  Harder erasers are the ones used for removing the medium from the surface.

2) Using a charcoal pencil.

Each student should receive three pencils of different density.  Explain how the different densities create different effects from the hard pencil, which creates a sharp line, to the soft pencil which creates a softer, blurred line.  Explain that hard pencils are used for outlining and creating sharp details while the softer pencils are used for shading in the details, giving them character, and for making shadows and giving the appearance of color to a black and white picture.

3) Vanishing point.

At this time the teacher should go over the vanishing point, how to find it and what to do with it.  The vanishing point is the point is the point on the horizon where everything disappears.  Have the students draw a rectangle and above the rectangle, a straight, horizontal line.  The line is the horizon.  Have them place a dot on the line.  This is the vanishing point.  Now, from each corner of their rectangle they should make a straight line to the vanishing point.  Each student now has, on their paper, what looks like a very long box that runs to the horizon and disappears there.  They can shorten the box by drawing a second box further back on the lines to the vanishing point and then erasing the remainder. 

Have the students play with different shapes, possibly have them make a second vanishing point.

4) Shading for depth.

Hold a light source next to an object and note how the object casts a shadow, how there are shadows on the object caused by the details of the object.  Move the light source and note how this changes the effect of the shadows.

Now have the students take the work they have already done and add shadows and shading, choosing a direction of light much like they chose their vanishing point.  Have them make a dot at the top of their paper.  This is where the "light" will be coming from in their picture.  Then, using the softest pencil and the soft gum eraser, they should make shadows on the objects.

5) Homework.

If the assigning of homework is desired, have each student create a scene, in pencil, using what they have learned in class today.  In lieu of leaving it on the teacher's desk, have them @send the descriptions to you.  Provide a reward if desired.

 

Lesson 3: Basic sketching - landscapes, still-life.

It is necessary that this lesson is held outdoors.

1) Review of basic supplies.

For this lesson a variety of pencils may be provided, in varying weights.  By the time a student has reached this class, he should have his own set of pencils with which to work.

An easel should be set up for each student, with sketch paper on it.  Pencils and erasers may be provided on the easel.

Explain the process of securing the paper to the easel with the edge clips.  The paper should be flat, secured with equal tension in all directions to prevent it from wrinkling or folding.

2) The still life.

On a table, place a selection of items.  Commonly used for this exercise is a bowl of fruit, but be creative.  Have the students sketch the table and it's contents, using the basic pencil drawing they should already have learned.

3) Elements of a landscape.

The basic elements of a landscape sketch are foliage, including trees, bushes, vines, etc.; water, such as lakes, rivers, ocean, etc.; sky, which may include clouds, stars, moon, etc.; ground, having grass, dirt, roads; and structures, which may be buildings, fences, or vehicles.

Demonstrate drawing different examples of each of these, pointing out examples in the surrounding area and have the students experiment with them.

4) Creating a landscape.

A landscape may not be exactly what the artist sees around him.  An artist may take elements of his surroundings and create a landscape from them.  At this time, have the students choose a direction to face, and then have them draw the scene they see in front of them.

 

Lesson 4: Advanced sketching - people, faces, moving scenes.

1) Review of basic supplies.

A pad of paper should be provided or brought by each student, along with pencils and erasers.  The student will need to be able to carry the pad, as he will be moving around in this class.

2) Drawing a face.

This is done in steps.  First the oval of the head, then, halfway down that make a horizontal line, and another halfway down from the first, and again, halfway down from the second.  Explain that, on the average human face, the eyes (the top line) are halfway between the top of the head and the chin.  The bottom of the nose is halfway between the eyes and the chin, and the mouth is halfway from the nose to the chin.  The sides of the mouth should be in line with the center of the eye and the center of the ears should be in line with the bottom of the nose.

All faces are not going to be the same, there will be variances, but for the time being, this is an average human head.

3) The human body.

Once you have finished the head, move on to the body, again, in steps.  The shoulders should be twice the width of the head, with the ears.  Elbows should be slightly above the waist and the length of the arm from shoulder to elbow should match that from elbow to wrist.  Length of the hand should be about three-quarters the length of the forearm, but take into account that fingers will curl, so it may appear shorter.

The legs, from hip to knee, should be slightly longer than the length of the arm from shoulder to elbow, but the leg follows the same rule as the arm, where the second half should match the length of the first.  Feet will be twice as long as from the back of the heel to the front of the ankle.

4)

Once you have learned the elements of drawing the human body, have the students move to a well-populated area such as the main hall and have them draw the scene in front of them.  They should first start with the barest outlines, capturing the scene.  Since it is moving, details will have to be filled in later.  They will need to watch the scene, capture a still scene in their mind and then, from continuing to watch the people, create the still scene on their paper.

 

Lesson 5: Basic watercolor painting - making and using watercolors, care of brushes.

1) Review of basic supplies.

For this lesson, provide for each student a variety of brushes, a wet sponge, a selection of paints in the primary colors plus black and white, and an easel with a pad of watercolor paper clipped to it.

2) Prepping the paper.

Have each student take his or her sponge and wet the paper thoroughly.  They don't want it soaked, however.  It should be similar to the dampness of a rag that has been wrung out.  The wet sponge should be wiped across the paper in wide strokes, wetting it evenly all over.

3) Mixing the colors.

Explain the color wheel, primary colors being red, yellow and blue.  Have them mix these to get orange (yellow and red), purple (red and blue) and green (blue and yellow).  Explain the difference between tint and shade, tint being in the mixture of primaries and shade being how much white or black is added to darken or lighten the color.  Have them experiment on their paper with the colors they have mixed.

4) Caring for the brushes.

A paintbrush is a painter's best friend.  You must always be sure to wash them thoroughly.  Paint left in a brush can destroy it, rendering it useless, and forcing the artist to replace it.

Show the students how to wash, blot and shape the bristles before storing them.

 

Lesson 6: Basic oil painting - mixing and using oils, care of brushes.

1) Review of basic supplies.

For this lesson, provide each student with a variety of brushes, a selection of paints, a palette and an easel with a stretched canvas clipped to it.

2) Mixing the colors.

Explain mixing paint and the use of thinner.

Explain the color wheel, primary colors being red, yellow and blue.  Have them mix these to get orange (yellow and red), purple (red and blue) and green (blue and yellow).  Explain the difference between tint and shade, tint being in the mixture of primaries and shade being how much white or black is added to darken or lighten the color.

3)

Have the students experiment on the canvas with the paint, using different brushes and brush strokes to create different textures.  Show them how to mix colors on the canvas to create different effects. 

4) Caring for the brushes.

A paintbrush is a painter's best friend.  You must always be sure to wash them thoroughly.  Paint left in a brush can destroy it, rendering it useless, and forcing the artist to replace it.

Show the students how to wash, blot and shape the bristles before storing them.

 

Lesson 7: Basic Pottery - Clay types & uses.

Introduction) 

In order to work with clay you must be familiar with it in all of its forms. You also need to know ahead of time whether you will be using your clay primarily for modeling and hand building or for pottery and throwing on the wheel.

1) Low fire or high fire?

You need to know before hand what your creations will be used for.

High fire clays are harder to work with but hold up much better with day-to-day use over time.

Low fire clays are easier for the beginner to learn with, as they are more forgiving. They should not be used to make cook ware. *Note* Earthenware is typically fired at a lower temp than stoneware but there are many high and low fire forms of each.

2) Finished size

The size you want your finished product to be is also a factor in choosing your clay.

If you are unfamiliar with clays it is advisable to ask for clay with low shrinkage. An advanced student may be able to compensate for shrinkage by making the basic structure larger so that the finished product is the correct size.

3) Clay texture

Many people think that the texture of clay is a personal preference but that is not the total truth. When working with different sizes and complexities of sculpture and wheel throwing it is important to have the correct type of clay. The texture or finish of your clay is determined by the amount of grog in the clay. (*Note* grog is a loose term in the world of pottery. It is used in several contexts correctly.) Grog is the sand or grit mixed in. For your smaller or more detailed items you will want smoother clay. For larger structures or pieces where you may be using support inside the body of the sculpture you might want to use clay with an increased amount of grog.

4) Color

Unlike texture, the color of your clay is purely personal preference.

Buff clays are more common while red clays are used for a terra-cotta look. White clays are used when you want to paint the piece and use the contrast of the clay color itself. White is also used with clear glaze; it gives a simple elegance when done correctly.

Written by Natalie W.

Lesson 8: Intermediate Pottery - Hand building, making a pinch-pot, slab building, making a coil pot.

Introduction)

The methods of hand building vary from person to person. These are the more common forms. These methods can be used to make more than containers. I will be explaining the basics of each form using a pot as an example. These methods do not require any tools, being the basic forms, but tools make them easier.

1) Review of basic supplies.

Clay, sponge, Water, paint, Kiln, Wire cutter, flat surface, needle tool, rolling pin (a wheel can be used to help with the coil pot)

2) Coil

The coil method begins by rolling the clay either between your hands or with your hands against a flat surface.

The string of clay should be uniform in width, only tapering at the two ends. A coil pot begins with a spiral, roll one end of your coil over onto itself until you have the size base you want for your pot. You then need to begin to stack the coil on top of the outer rim of coils and go up from there. (*Note* to add on to your coil you will need another one of the same size, use the needle tool to score the two ends by drawing lines in a crosshatching style across them. Wet the two ends and put the roughened sections together and smooth them together with your fingers.) When your pot has the desired shape and height, you will need to smooth out the coils. Choose whether you want the coils to show or to be hidden. For the sake of simplicity I will describe it as the coils being on the outside. Use your off hand to steady the pot on the outside as you apply firm, but gentle, pressure to the inside of the pot with up and down motions to smooth the coils together into an even wall. Allow the pot to dry slowly. The grooves in your piece are weak spots and will crack if it dries too fast.

3) Slab

The slab method is fairly simple and straightforward.

Use a rolling pin to flatten the clay into a uniform slab. Cut your sides and bottom out of this slab. A slab pot can be any shape, take any form. Place your bottom slab in front of you on the table and score the edges with your needle tool. Score the bottom edges of your wall(s) as well. Add one wall at a time, shaping the walls to the bottom of the pot, by wetting the two scored edges and placing them together firmly. Smooth the two pieces of clay by running your finger along the outside and inside edges. Use this same method for connecting the wall edges to each other. Once you have achieved the desired shape, allow drying. 

4) Pinch

The pinch method is what almost everyone learned as a child playing in the mud or sand.

Start with a ball of clay. Hold the clay in your off hand. Push the thumb of the other hand into the clay to make a hole. Pinch the clay between your index finger and thumb to form the walls. If you turn the bowl while you pinch the walls will maintain a uniform thickness. Once the walls are thin enough to have the proper shape but still thick enough not to collapse flatten the bottom of the bowl by gently tapping the pot on a flat surface. Rub it with water to smooth out the sides and inside of the pot. Allow drying.

5) Decoration

There are so many forms of decoration that it is impossible to even scratch the surface in this lesson.

The basic forms are painting, carving and pressing.

With painting you have to wait until after the first firing and you canít glaze over it.

Slip is colored clay that is mixed with a lot of water and sometime specialized colors to make a paint that can be fired and glazed over with clear glaze.

Carving is done when the clay is leather hard and can be handled easily without harming the structure but is still malleable enough to carve easily.

Pressing can be done any time. Slab building is the best candidate for pressing. You can use any object to press into the clay to form a pattern imbedded in the clay. You can also press objects into the clay and leave them there in some cases.

Glaze is covered in section 4c Advanced pottery.

Iím sure anyone interested in clay can think of many more ways to decorate their art to make it unique.

Written by Natalie W.

 

Lesson 9: Advanced pottery - wedging, throwing, drying, glazing and firing.

1) Review of basic supplies.

Wedging table, Needle tool, Cutting wire, basic clay working tools, wheel, bat, smock, water, small water container, sponge, drying rack, large work area, buckets, glazes, kiln, kiln gloves, kiln support blocks, firing cones, A HAIR TIE OR CLIP IF YOU HAVE LONG HAIR!

2) Wedging

Your wedging surface should be a table with a heavy coarse cloth stretched over it much like you would stretch a canvas. The cloth is to ensure that the wet clay you have doesnít stick to the table. The wedging cloth only gets better with age and should only be changed if it is torn or loose. The table should be low enough to allow your upper body weight to help press the clay.

Wedging is the act of removing air and lumps from the clay you are about to use for building or throwing. It mixes the clay into a uniform texture. You start by measuring your clay carefully. Make sure you have enough to work with but not too much for your skill level. This will vary person to person.

Pick your clay correctly. Good throwing clay is soft enough to be easily formed but hard enough not to stick to your hands.

Set the clay on the table and knead it by pushing with the heels of your hands so that you flatten the part near you and there is a lump in front of your hands. Pull the lump towards you in a rolling manner and set it up. Press the clay about half way down and repeat the motion until clay is smooth and uniform. The edges mix better than the middle so you may need to cut the clay with your wire tool and wedge it together again. Avoid adding air when you cut and remix by flattening the sides you will be joining. Remember that joining the flat sides you just cut defeats the purpose, as the same clay will be in the middle. *Note* If you press too hard you will be pressing air bubbles into the clay instead of removing them!

3) Throwing

3a) Centering

We have come to the section that most people were waiting for but it begins on the wedging table. Take the well-mixed clay and press it into a ball. Roll the ball in a circle on the table to create a point. When you get settled at the wheel make sure you have all of your supplies handy. It is a pain to get up in the middle of everything because you left something in the supply closet. Make sure your water and sponge are within very easy reach. Your shaping tools should be near by as well when you start learning to use them.

Once you are settled in with your clay in your hand seated at the wheel you will hold the clay ball with the pointed side down. This is the side you will smack down into the middle of your bat (The wooden tray over the metal wheel) If you donít get it centered fairly well you might have to start over so smack it down firmly but with good aim. *Note* The wheel must be dry to begin! If it is not, the clay will slip off as soon as you apply pressure.

Attach the clay to the wheel by pressing the edges, which are touching the wheel down and smoothing them out so that it looks as if the clay is joined to the wheel. You can skip this when you are more experienced and you will learn not to push the clay off of the wheel before it is well stuck.

Take your sponge from the water and squeeze a good amount onto the clay and your hands. I prefer to center and throw with the sponge tucked into my hand out of the way but I know it can be hard for some people to do this.

Centering the clay is the most important step aside from wedging. These may seem boring and unimportant but if you donít prepare your clay you will never be able to proceed into the advanced forms of throwing.

Keep the clay wet during centering or it will stick to your hands and come off of the wheel completely. You will then need to toss it into the pug and start over.

My teacher always told the class, "If you are left-handed, forget it. Throwing is a skill in which it depends on the how you learn it - not whether you are right or left-handed."

I place my left elbow on my left knee with my hand resting with the clay cupped in it on the wheel. My right hand is steadied by the right hand edge of the potterís wheel and is overlapped with my left hand while grasping my left thumb. The outside heel of my right hand and my pinkie finger is resting on the top of the clay. This will seem awkward at first but it will become second nature as you change it to apply best to your form.

I keep my sponge in between my right hand and left thumb to keep from having to remove my hands from the clay for re-wetting. Some may find this awkward at best and so it is only a suggestion. Now that you know the position to put your hands in and the clay is well wetted, remove your hands and begin to kick the wheel. It needs to be going a steady speed and so you will wear yourself out trying to kick it too fast. Keep a nice steady rhythm and place your hands lightly on the clay in the position I described before.

*Note* The positions told about here are for a wheel going counter clockwise.

Start pressing forward with the heel of your left hand and you will feel the clay rise up towards your right hand. Keep pushing hard for a second or two and then while still applying pressure with your left hand you will start pushing the clay back down with your right hand. When you get more advanced you will be able to center the clay with very little up and down motion, just steadying it with your hands. For now keep the up and down motion going. One of the hardest parts at the beginning is removing your hands without throwing the pot off center. You will need to reduce pressure evenly but quickly and take off both hands at the same time. This applies from now on when taking your hands off of your pot.

To check if the clay is now centered leave the wheel spinning at a good rate. Take your flat wooden shaping tool and hold it near the spinning clay in a stationary position. If the clay seems as if it is moving away from, then toward the tool, it is not centered. Try again until the clay does not appear to move when the tool is near it.

3b) Opening the clay

Once your clay is centered you can open it up. You have a choice now, you can open the clay by pressing both thumbs down into the clay while steadying it with both hands on the outside or you can press the fingers of your right hand into the clay while steadying it with your left hand. It is your choice but I have found that when both hands are involved in steadying you can end up throwing the pot off center easier. I tend to go with the one hand centering while the other hand opens method.

Avoid the exact center of the clay when opening. Instead push slightly off center (the right seems to work best)

If the clay begins to crack while opening stop immediately and compress top edge with a sponge with the wheel still moving. Once the clay is opened you need to concentrate on the bottom. It needs to be thin enough that the pot wont be too bottom heavy but thick enough to allow for you to cut it off of the wheel and allow for some trimming later. It also needs to be compressed with the sponge or it will sometimes crack while drying.

3c) Raising the clay

Once opened you will want to shape the pot and make it taller. For now try a basic shape. You can experiment more later. Just start from the bottom and work up.

There are many different ways to raise the clay. Start with your arms braced as with the centering and steady the clay with your left hand as you put your right hand into the bottom of the pot. Press your fingers inside the pot while only steadying with the outside hand. You will use a very slow pulling motion as you move your hands carefully up the side of the pot. Try to keep the walls uniform from bottom to top. If the top of your pot gets to be uneven and begins to wobble donít loose heart. Slow down the wheel a little and use your needle tool to carefully trim the top of the pot off. Continue working until your pot is done. Donít over work your pot. Stop while you are ahead in other words. 

When you are done shaping the basic pot you will need to trim the bottom. Take the trimming tool (a flat wooden tool with a pointed tip at either end) and trim off the excess clay at the bottom of the pot from the right hand side of the wheel. The angle of trimming depends on the final shape you want your pot to take. This will finish the bottom of the pot. Do not allow wet clay or water to touch the newly exposed clay on the bottom. It will be used to pick the pot up when you are more advanced. Scrape the excess clay from around the pot.

4) Drying

Since you are beginning, your pot is on a bat, the wooden cover for the wheel. You need to use your wire tool. Wrap it around your hands until it is wider than your pot but shorter than the bat. Push it down with both thumbs across the side of the pot away from you with it stretched tight between your fingers. Pull it towards you keeping it low to the bat and tight against your hands. Keep the pressure slow and steady and donít pull it up towards you until it is well clear of the pot.

Now you move your bat over to the counter or drying rack and leave it until it is leather hard.

Once it is dry enough that you can touch it without leaving fingerprints but it can still be worked with fairly easily you can decorate it with carvings or objects pressed into the clay. *Note* for pressings sometimes you need to start before the clay is leather hard depending on what you will be pressing into the clay.

5) Glazing

You can glaze bisque ware, which is unglazed unpainted pottery after the first firing. Once the glazes are mixed all you have to do is wax the parts of the pot that you do not want glazed like the bottom. *Note* If you glaze the bottom of the pot it will become permanently a part of whatever it is sitting on in the kiln. Once the wax resist is painted on you dip the piece into the glaze about half way. You allow the glaze to dry and then when you can pick it up without messing up the glaze already on it, you dip the other side. Be very careful not to over glaze your items. When the glaze melts it drips, which can lead to some interesting designs, if you put too much on and the glaze drips to the floor of the kiln or the kiln furniture your piece could be ruined by you trying to get it unstuck. It could even break the kiln.

6) Firing

Green ware, clay which is completely dry but not fired is what is put into the first firing. Clay must be completely dry before it is fired for the first time. You need to know if it is high fire or low fire clay and have the appropriate temperature indicators (cones) and timers to know when the firing is completed. It is hard to go into detail because there are so many factors to figure in.

The second firing is with the glaze on. You need to know the melting temperature of the glazes you are using and the time they need to be at the temperature to set right. Again there are so many factors that even experienced potters use trial and error during glaze firings.

When the firing is done, let it cool before opening. After opening, let it cool some more. Some clay and even some glazes will crack or craze if exposed to extreme temperature changes.

If there are any air bubbles with no escape routes for expansion the air bubble will explode. Also if the walls are too thick on an item and it is not allowed enough time to dry it could explode. Sometimes things explode unexpectedly and ruin the entire firing. Wear protective eyewear when using the peepholes and emptying the kiln after the firing.

Written by Natalie W.

 

Lesson 10: Basic Woodcarving - knife use and safety, choosing your wood.

1) Review of basic supplies

For this lesson, each student will be supplied with a set of tools, a sharpening stone, a fine sharpening file and a strop.  There should be an assortment of scrap wood for the latter part of the lesson.

2) Knife safety

Express to the students that wood carving tools are extremely sharp, perhaps provide an anecdote of journeymen so and so with nine fingers due to carelessness as an apprentice.

Knives should always be used with the sharp side pointed away from the body.  Never cut towards oneself or towards another person.

When handing a knife to another person, never hand it to them blade first and never put your own hand on the sharp of the blade.  (Have the students practice passing a knife from person to person).

3) Sharpening a blade

Never sharpen on a dry stone.  Always use oil or, lacking that, spit on your stone.  Stones are used for flat blades while a file is used for rounded blades such as the scoop knife.

Demonstrate to the students how to hold the blade at an angle to the stone or file.  Sharpening should be done in one direction only, which is pushing the blade and never pulling it.  This will prevent burring and curling of the edge.  There are two kinds of edges: bevel, which must be sharpened equally on both sides to prevent curling, and chisel, which is sharpened with the flat side up and never the other way, else it turns into a bevel.

When one is done sharpening, stropping is in order.  Stropping is the act of pulling (opposite direction from sharpening) the blade across a piece of leather.  A boot or belt will do in a pinch.  For the curved blades it is good to have a leather cord.  You will soon discover if you are doing this the wrong way because you will have cut your strop.  Always pull the blade along the leather, never sliding it side to side and never pushing it across the leather.  This will remove any filings and burrs remaining on the blade.

4) Choosing your wood

For the beginner it is suggested that a soft wood be chosen to practice on.  It is easy to cut with a sharp knife and easy on untrained muscles.

Harder woods will hold up better under stress, broomwood being a choice, if expensive, wood for furniture.  Softer woods will take a stain well, though occasionally too well, resulting in streaks and blotches.  Darker woods usually need no stain at all, lending their own natural beauty to a piece, while lighter woods, when stained, can produce a wonderfully intricate grain definition.

Allow the students now to converge on the pile of scrap wood and start picking at it with their knives.

Lesson 11: Advanced Woodcarving - using stain, making a simple figure.

1) Review of basic supplies

*Note* This lesson should be taught in a well ventilated area, such as a courtyard.

Tables should be set up in the courtyard, with wide brushes for spreading the stain.

There should be a selection of wood blocks.  These can be either identical or of various sizes and shapes.

2) Cutting the basic shape

Today we will be making wooden <choose an animal or simple figure>.  To begin with, take a pencil and draw the figure on one side of your block.  After you do this, take your handsaw and trim the block along the outline you have drawn.

Have the students do this, comment on their work.  The figure should be small so that it can be finished in one lesson.

3) Carving the figure

You might want an example for the students to work from.  Each student should have a block of wood now in the rough shape of the subject.  Explain how the students are to use their knives to round off the corners of the object.

After this, the students should use the smaller knives and carving tools for creating details such as eyes, nose, and fur.

4) Staining

After everyone has finished their piece, have them move to the table for staining.  Stain should be painted on lavishly and, depending on the effect you wish to achieve, can be either wiped off afterward with a dry rag, or left on.  Wiping it off produces a gentler stain, with no running or puddling, whereas leaving it on, the stain will puddle in the details, making them more defined.

Wet stain is very sticky, so warn the students against dropping their work or getting it in dirt.  Also warn about bubbles in the stain as these will dry as bubbles and cause defects in the finished product.

All lesson plans written by Senior Apprentice Falada except 7, 8 and 9 by Natalie W.

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