Tree of life, Tree of Souls, League of Souls, League of Nations, Pillar of life.

Totem PoleYou get the idea, this is my latest project. I have wanted to carve a totem pole for a while now and have done quite a bit of research into it. I’ve found some good sources of info as well, especially from a fellow I met at the Chipping Away woodcarver’s conference, who does some fantastic work on totem poles. However, I just can’t seem to get the inspiration to start on a traditional totem. I keep drifting back to thoughts of faces and expressions. Not that I am great at it (yet), but I feel driven to create a totem of faces, but more specifically expressions. I guess it is because I feel that the eyes are the window to the soul.

At any rate, I have a nice well seasoned, 16ft. white cedar log that has been begging to be worked on. I have never a carved Cedar log before, let alone a dry (not green) log, so I found it very interesting. Carving green wood is much, much better, or maybe it’s just that cedar is so darned soft. The rough cutting is a breeze. Carving dry cedar with the Arbortech, is like cutting into a stack of paper, or digging your hands through a barrel of feathers. It almost seams light and fluffy. But that is also a big problem, as it also crushes the fiber so easily. Everything has to be razor sharp and cutting across the grain is near impossible. Things you can get away with when carving walnut are near impossible on cedar. Even using a V tool across the grain is a pain, as it crushes the wood rather than carving it.

All in all, it is a good challenge and best of all it smells great when carving it. All though, too much Cedar dust is like walking through the perfume section at Sears on a Saturday during Christmas shopping in December, a massive overload on the senses and one big headache.

Well this is as far as I got this weekend, check out “Totem Pole” under “Work in Progress” for more pictures. Help me name this carving. Vote for your favorite name or suggest a better one.

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