Tag Archives: contemporary design handcrafted antler animal carving
In layers of rock laid down 540 million years ago, the fossil record shows ancient life forms that have no precedent in previous layers. This zone is known as the Cambrian Explosion. This period is extremely interesting because, for some reason, the diversity of life increased dramatically, creating most of the currently existing animal phyla. Previously, animal life on Earth consisted of single cells or simple colonies. Why the complexity of diversity took off is unknown. Not only are most of the current animal groups represented in the fossil record, but dozens of other groups are also found, groups that did not succeed in making it to modern times and many of these types are the weirdest of all. It is estimated that 90% of the life forms that appeared during the Cambrian Explosion did not survive into successive geologic periods. Imagine what the earth might look like today if all those different forms were represented. This piece may help with your imagination.
Fantasia depicts many of the life forms existing in the fossil record as well as other forms of varying levels of abstraction. Considering how strange many of the life forms were, it could well be possible that the abstract forms I created actually are similar to ones that existed millions of years before the dinosaurs. Further, some of the weird ones still exist today.
The myriad pieces are carved from elk, moose and deer antler and displayed in a semi-dioramic manner. There are also a few pieces carved from tagua nut, for color and texture.
42 cm W x 46 cm H x 16 cm D
16.5″ W x 18″ H x 10”D
Reg, where do you get your ideas? This is one of the questions I get asked a lot. The others are:
- how long does it take to make that?
- how did you start doing this work?
- do I get a discount?
But, back to inspiration–it is easy to get the ideas as they are all around me. I live in a park, surrounded by the perfect images of nature. As a biologist by training, I find the snails and worms to be every bit as wonderful as the flowers. As well, I don’t limit my ideas to local nature and find inspiration from books, videos and talking to other people.
Consequently, I have pieces representing sea creatures, even though I live several thousand kilometers from the ocean. But, overall, the beauty and grace of the natural world provides most of my ideas.
I’m also not too proud to take a nugget of an idea from somewhere else and build upon it to make something new and unique–often with little in common from the original idea. I have two bonsai-inspired pieces, neither of which look like a traditional bonsai tree.
So, finding an image worthy of attempting to copy is the easy part. The difficult part is trying to make that copy within the limitations of my skill as a carver and the availability of the pieces of suitable antler. This brings me to another aspect of inspiration–the desire to make the piece the best possible–the work ethic. In this, I have two sources of inspiration, or models of work ethic.
First, the level of skill and dedication of traditional oriental artists. Whenever I am tempted to say, “ah, this is good enough!”, I think of the work I’ve seen in Japan, or a Chinese carving I’ve seen on the internet and realize that it can be made better, even if it means starting over. If you feel like saying that it is probably good enough–then it probably isn’t. I was recently working on an oriental dragon and had finished the scales over the two foot long body. I tried a modification of the scale carving and to mixed emotions, discovered that the new method was much better. It meant I had to redo the entire body, but the final result is much better and I am satisfied.
- The second source of my work ethic inspiration is my wife, best friend and partner Jamie and our son Justin. Both are perfectionists (darn!) and so I am somewhat driven to ensure that my work meets their standards. Not that this is a problem, quite the contrary, I like to make my work the best possible so that even if it sits on a counter in my basement, I can be satisfied that it is the best I can do.
This piece started out as a 3D collage, a mix of individual organic shapes, each created in its own right, then amalgamated. However, as I was making the pieces with curves and bumps, I noticed that many of them were familiar. In hindsight, it should have been no surprise that my biological training and interests predisposed me to use shapes familiar to me as models for the abstract shapes. And if one is making abstract amorphous shapes, what better place to look then to the molluscs.
Molluscs, a group of animals having no bones, are basically bags of guts and muscle. They move by hydraulic and muscle motion. A familiar representative is the octopus, whose entire body functions like a bag of water, yet is able to effect the finest level of motor skill. Other examples are the snails, which can crawl along a razorblade edge and not be cut. Squids and cuttlefish are masters of disguise, able to transform the shape and color of individual skin cells. The bivalves, clams, mussels, scallops and oysters, are so well developed that they do not even need a head to function in their environment. Nauteloids, which look like an octopus hiding in a snail shell, were once the dominant life form in the oceans. And then we have the shells produced by these animals, in all their shapes and beauty. Each a mastery of mathematical curves and spirals.
I attempted to blend lifelike mulluscan shapes with abstract shapes to create a tableau providing a unified whole. Each segment was shaped and crafted so that it blended into the overall harmony. The diversity and unusualness of molluscs is such that it is often difficult to distinguish between the dozen or so molluscs and the abstract portions. The individual pieces are mounted on a piece of moose antler that it itself shaped to contribute to the overall effect.
Cornucopia is made from elk, deer and moose antler as well as some tagua nut. It is mounted on a base of polished Manitoba Maple with a natural edge.
35 cm W x 22 cm L x 35 cm H
13.5″W x 8.5″L x 13.5″H
A walking stick head should fit in the hand. It should be smooth, be ergonomically shaped to allow a good grip and be pleasing to the eye. A perfect shape for this is a cuttlefish–yes–a cuttlefish. The cuttlefish, like its close cousin the squid, is a cephalopod and related to, among others, the octopus. Besides being an intelligent hunter and predator of the oceans, the cuttlefish is a master of disguise and able to color and texture its skin to blend into its background, making it nearly invisible. It is also able to use this image changing feature to put on dazzling displays for courting and territorial defense.
This piece is carved from a single moose antler and is sized and shaped to be a pleasure to hold. The motif is a certain conversation piece and if necessary can act as a significantly effective weapon. The cuttlefish is fitted with carved glass eyes. The piece is mounted on a birch wood shaft.
A walking stick head should fit in the hand. It should be smooth, be ergonomically shaped to allow a good grip and be pleasing to the eye. A perfect shape for this is a toad–yes–a toad. Toads have been on the receiving end of bad press, being equated with slimy, obnoxious images. In reality, the toad likes to be left alone and is an effective predator of bugs. Larger toads have been known to consume mice and even small birds.
As legend goes, Chang-e, wife of the archer I, having drunk an elixir of immortality, turned into a toad and retired to live on the moon. Since that time, the toad is thought to bring longevity and immortality.
This piece is carved from a single moose antler and is sized and shaped to be a pleasure to hold. The motif is a certain conversation piece and if necessary can act as a significantly effective weapon. The toad is fitted with carved glass eyes. The piece is mounted on a Saskatoon wood shaft. The length of the wooden shaft has not been determined, so it can be customized to suit the user.
Dragons have become a popular motif for walking sticks, with the popularity of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Their style and appearance ranges greatly. Like Lord of the Rings, this piece grew with the telling. Carved from a single moose antler, I started with a poorly shaped piece of antler and had to develop the image given what was available. Antler carving of this form is a reductive process, so once removed, material cannot be added back. The resulting shape reflects getting the most from the original shape of the antler.
The dragon is outfitted with matched Australian sapphires, rectangular in shape and tri-colored in hue. The piece is meant to be mounted on a walking stick that is long enough that the dragon is grasped from the side, as opposed to from the top. If desired, it is also very suited to be held like a sword. The dragon head is mounted on a Saskatoon wood shaft of distinctive character. Altogether, this is a walking stick for someone with a solid conception of their own image.
I saw several articulated lobsters while visiting Japan. They varied in size and in the material they were created from: brass, steel, ivory, wood, etc. They were all amazing and extremely expensive. Most of the ones I saw were in the high end antique stores, usually behind glass so one could not touch them. Obviously, they were highly prized, so I decided to create one myself. Naturally, my starting place was a real lobster and I endeavored to make my lobster as lifelike as possible, using drawings and measurements to ensure that all pieces were correctly proportional and attached to each other in the correct manner.
This exceptionally lifelike piece is made from elk and moose antler. Including the wires and brass pins it is made of over 200 pieces. All joints move, hence the term articulated, including the antennae, the feeding arms, all joints of all eight legs, the large claws and each segment of the abdomen and of the tail section. The legs are attached to the body in a manner that supports the body in a position approximating a live lobster. All hinges are facilitated by brass pins. The eyes are facetted Swarovski black crystal. The piece mounts on a bur oak base that has support pieces for the body and claws.
One critic stated that “this piece is both monumental and exquisite.”
The inspiration for this piece came from a comment overheard at an international scientific meeting. An Indian scientist made a comment to the effect that someone “should not let the snake out of the can.” I realized this was the Asian equivalent of the North American saying to “not let the cat out of the bag” and gave me the idea for this piece. The cobra is made from elk antler and fits inside the included tea canister. It is designed to be handled.
This is an excellent example of the handmade antler art made by INAKA. This contemporary design handcrafted antler animal carving would be an asset to any home. High quality custom designed handmade antler sculpture is a reflection of the owner as well as of the artist.
8cm diameter x 13cm H
3”diameter x 5”H