My attempt at carving wood and the valuable lesson it taught me

When I started my first DIY project, I looked at videos and tutorials, and started picking up basic skills. And this experience made me believe every art and craft can be learnt and mastered through Google and Youtube. Carving on wood is something I have been fascinated about and is one such skill, I thought, I can master by merely reading up and practicing. As a first step towards achieving this expertise, I BLINDLY bought a whole set of carving tools.
Wood Carving tools
Wood Carving Tools
My recent visit to a wood carving factory in Kandy, Sri Lanka came as quite a revelation to me. Much unlike the other sight-seeing locales, I took special interest in this item in our itinerary.  The one hour made me realize that few proficiencies are not so easy to acquire unless some portion of it is already innate in us. 
Carved Figurines
There is so much that goes into a craft that probably is not entirely documented. And the amount of knowledge these craftsmen hold is absolutely amazing. The years and years of practice leading to perfection was so evident in the precision with which they etched every intricate feature. They were making a larger-than-life-size figurine out of a single log and naturally that made me wonder what if they make a mistake. To my amazement, one of them retorted with oozing confidence, “We don’t make mistakes”.
Carving on wood
Craftsman at work
I had a chance to briefly work on one of the statues that was in the making, and it was surely not as easy as I originally  thought (Not that I thought it is any child's game anyway) it would be.  I only wanted to learn carving to be able to make small name boards for the home. And this experience brought a new found respect towards every individual involved in some craft or the other, however big or small it might be. While everything may seem so easy from a distance, I realized,  there is absolutely no short cut towards conquering an art form. 
Somu with wood carving tools
My failed attempt at carving
For now, I am giving up my idea of getting to do any sort of carving. For someone who cannot get a 2D figure right on paper, 3D art is going to remain a challenge. Even if I were to undergo any formal training, I doubt if any carving spark is innate in me. There is a reason why some folks are considered gifted, and this inborn talent is just about one of them. Do you agree with me ? Leave your thoughts.

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  1. I always had the feeling most of your work are taken from google and youtube... but it would be good if you give the link for your inspiration as well...

  2. @Sanjay: this is what happens most of the time in many blogs... where people just put on some DIY in there blog, without giving link to the source from which they got the idea.. and others just belive its all there own work...

  3. @Sanjay, Thanks for making your point. I was indeed sincerely looking at giving you a response when the quick retort from Anoop Sharma came. Surprisingly, both your comment and Anoop's came from the same IP Address (So basically it is the same individual changing names and posting comments) and that is when I lost my sincerity. Quit anonymity and then we can discuss.

  4. Hi Somu, Indeed a lucky chance to actually try your hand at wood carving. I had initial thoughts along the same line ... of working on a simple name plate sort of thing. But thanks to the in-built lethargy, I did not even reach the stage of buying the basic carving tools that you got.
    Anyway, one thing which I got quite worked up about was using a Dremel kind of tool to do the actual carving. It would allow you to try out carving with much more control because the force comes from the tool and you only provide the position. Since name plates and similar things are quite small as compared to idols that you saw, so it would be close to writing or painting .. I might hazard a guess that Preethi might even be better at it than you because of her painting "experience".
    Coming to the question you ask:
    Of course, if you are an appreciator of art (or something), it does not necessary mean that you too might be as good as the actual knowers of art. That is what critics are :-) ... maybe we could accept that limitation and just bask in the happiness we get on seeing a good thing.
    - MS

    1. Hi MS,
      Yeah. Dremel would be something that I should try. Have somehow never got myself into buying any tools beyond the hand tools that I own and have just been outsourcing wherever I can :) And your guess is quite true that Preethi might actually do a better job considering her penchance for art :) Should ask her to give it a try.

      As you rightfully mentioned, going to accept my limitation and enjoy the works of true talents.

  5. Good Morning Sir, Its my friend Anoop Sharme.. we both are best mates from college and work.. we discussed about wood carving yesterday... and I showed him your blog.. he is kind of guy who feel blog is waste of time and reundant info... but I am opposite, I am plannng to start my blog soon.. so i have been followig few blogs recently..I know is comments would have offended you... but is comment is meant for me... so pls ignore his comment.. thank you

  6. Great.. that you got to try your hand at wood carving in Kandy! Intricate, even I was intrigued by the carved masks on my visit to SriLanka.

    1. Hi Ambika, intriguing it was right ? I wished I could spend little more time out there just watching these guys work :)

  7. Hi Somu
    For someone who has been following your blog for a long time, I would like to say that I think your work is very original. Of course we see things all around us, but it takes originality to do it in a simple way and a way that can encourage non specialists to try it out. There is so much information on the web that one can drown in it. Followers of your blog rely on you finding such information, sifting out the good from the bad, the impossible from the possible and posting it. That is why each blog post is valuable.
    With regards to your specific question, certain people are gifted. This manifests in their creativity. However certain crafts are handled by families, so some craftsmen have become highly skilled in their craft, though perhaps not so gifted. Either way I think craftsmen deserve great respect.

    1. Vinay, Thanks. Coming from a fellow DIYer, that is one nice compliment :) It is indeed true that for some it is a family profession and the skill is passed on from generation to generation. And sometimes I think that their talent is right there in their genes :)


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