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Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3)

04/29/2021 By Yoav Liberman

Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 1
For the previous segment in this series please click here.

Once the body of the mouse is completed my students were ready to open the gap between the ears of the mouse. First, they formed a “V” shape valley in between the two ears by pushing the carving knife at an angle to the right and then to the left. Then they enlarged the “V” at its base to resemble a “U”. After this, the students rounded the front and back of the ear, and finally are ready to hollow out the inner ear using a small gouge.

Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 2
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 3
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My approach for hollowing the ear is as follows. First, draw the contour of the excavation - this is a line that recedes about an ⅛” from the ears’ rim and forms an oblong or an “egg” shape. Then drew a dot in the center of the “egg”. Then, with a small gouge start gouging “flower petals” in a circular pattern around the center. Cut the small petals around the dot by pushing in and angling down. Stop pushing when the edge of the gouge is under the dot and DO NOT scoop up the petal. The idea is that the “flower” will pop out naturally when the last petal has been cut. Once the first flower is removed increase the diameter of the gouging to form wider and deeper flowers until you have reached the rims of the ear or the egg shape contour.

At this point, we are ready to sand the mouse.
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 9
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 10
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 11
After we open a gap in between the two ears and round them over we are ready for some gouging of the inner ear. Here, my student is using a small gouge and work around the ear's center to hollow it out.



Once the body was sanded the student drilled a hole in the mouse’s rear end and glued in a leather tail that I pre-made. Lastly, I asked the student to bring me the mouse and with a carving knife, I cut the mouse’s eyes. I then handed the mouse back to the student so she or he could apply a coat of beeswax paste finish on the wood.
[image 4, 5,6,7,9,10]
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 12
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 13
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A few more notes: The inner ear can be carved out with a whittling knife too. Hold the mouse secured and begin shaping a round cavity by poking the tip of the knife and then circling it around the tip as if you were using a compass and increasing the radius bit by bit.
Carving a Mouse (The Teaching of Whittling This Fall - Continued pt3) 18

When my students finished the mouse I presented to them their next projects which I will talk about next time.

N.B. While my middle school and high school students are using whittling knives to carve their animals, the lower school children are using a simple set of needle rasps. I chose the rasps for their enhanced safety and simplicity. Over the coats of the year, I learned that the rasps can work well, and in some cases even better than the knife. They are especially effective with harder woods than bass or in situations where the rasp’s geometry allows it to work in tandem with the shape of the intended design - for example when working with coves.
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