I Carved A Bobcat For My Mom

My mother has always been a pet person. She has on more than one occasion bought a dog or cat without the consent of my father. I remember one day in school, I was at recess (probably in 1st or 2nd grade at the time), and my mom showed up holding a puppy. I asked who the puppy belonged to, and she said, “Us.” I was ecstatic the rest of the day and couldn’t wait to go home and play with him.

By the time I turned thirteen, we had been through several dogs and cats (we always gave them away after a few months because my father would get fed up with them), but had not had one in months or maybe even years, so I figured I’d press my luck and ask for another. My dad, however, had definitely had his fill of domestic animals by then, and when I asked, he proceeded to put his proverbial foot down. Actually, I remember he once played Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” when we asked. He belted the whole thing out in our living room. After he refused, my mother then proceeded to encourage me not to speak to him until he gave in. I didn’t talk to him for several days. I remember he would ask me a question straight to my face, and I would just walk away, completely ignoring him. We actually handled an entire two-day trip to Toronto this way. It helped my cause that my grandma (his mom) would also encourage me, saying, “You let him have it, Steve!” I did eventually get my dog, Rocky, for Christmas, and to everyone’s surprise, we kept him his whole life, until he passed away several years ago.

. . .

As for my mother, she is and always has been a wonderful person. I think her and I are probably the most alike in our family of five. Her and I have the inability to turn our brains off, except for short periods of time when we find something to otherwise occupy our mental energy. She loves to quilt and sew, and sometimes likes to watch one of her favorite shows. I play video games. Her and I are unable to stop thinking about the big questions of life. We are always thinking and re-thinking, and trying new perspectives to see if it fits better than our previous one. It’s obvious to me that this is both a blessing and a curse. It’s probably the stuff that philosophers are made of. It’s not that they attempt to put so much energy into their pondering, it’s actually quite the opposite – they have no choice but to obsess about particular topics, and they figure they might as well write them down in order to benefit themselves or others in the future.

This way of thinking, though, has at least one major benefit. After having thought about things from such different perspectives, I think a person can understand, at least to a certain degree, when they meet someone who has adopted that perspective. In that way, my mother is the least judgmental person I know. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talk harshly about a single person.

. . .

This bobcat represents the continuation of me begging people to take my wood carvings from me. I’ve learned that if I know that the wood carving will be a gift for someone else, I tend to spend a little more time on it – to treat it more carefully, and to be sure it’s finished before I stop working on it. Earlier, when I was just wood carving with no intention of giving the piece away, I had the tendency to stop working on it before it was considered finished, and to cut some corners. It’s much more challenging to take things seriously when you know that not many others will not scrutinize your work.

For this one, I used a book that I recently purchased. Up to this point, I hadn’t really studied wood carving much. I had been printing 2D images I found online and doing my best to interpret them as 3D objects. Doing this is challenging because you really have no idea what the rest of the object should look like. I continue to learn just how important study and research is before starting to carve. Drawing is also important. I’ve come to the conclusion that if you can’t draw it, you probably can’t carve it.

The major advantage of purchasing the book is that it gives plenty of drawings of the carvings from different angles. Therefore, I don’t have to guess at what an object looks like from the top view, side view, etc. There is still a lot of work to do to understand how to cut all of the different angles, but the foundation is there for you.

I think this is the first time I’ve tried to carve a semi-detailed face. Some of the reason for this is because I purchased larger wood blocks for this carving (three inch thickness instead of two) so the carving can be a little larger, which allows for more detail. Overall, I’m fairly happy with it. I think a “real” wood carver would probably tell me that I’m not finished with it. I haven’t wood-burned it or painted it. Honestly, for now, I really like the look of plain wood. I might (and probably will) change my mind as I continue to carve, but for now, there is something enchanting about the look of a solid block of wood, sculpted and shaped until it represents the thing the carver had in his head.

I love you very much, Mama, and I will always will. Enjoy your bobcat.

Carve On, friends. I wish you all the very best.

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