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Basic Relief Techniques

High-relief carving describes undercutting design elements so they appear to detach from the background space. Further, it may also incorporate sculpted clay added to certain areas on top of the background to create added depth. This post is all about carving into clay and the best tools and techniques for doing so. In this post, potter Ann Ruel gives us the ins and outs of carving low relief designs into wet clay.

relief carving

Bas-relief or Low relief is usually under ½” in depth. We have created these special content collections organized to give you a deep dive into a range of topics that matter. Enter now for your chance to win more than $2,000 worth of woodworking equipment from Woodpeckers.

This style is pretty much your all-purpose wood carving method, and it is usually what people think of first when considering wood carving as a pastime. Wood carving is an incredibly creative woodworking skill. Just a few hours of whittling away can see you turn a piece of mahogany into something that has a real artistic twist.

Floral Relief Carving

While low is usually carving no more than ½” from the wood, there are other types of relief carving. For example, medium relief, also known as bass relief, is typically ½” to 2” deep. Deep relief is even higher, with about 2” of depth or more. When there are no cast shadows from one object to the next, the relief is usually a deep carving. Relief wood carvers create carvings that seem to be raised, or are in relief, on a flat panel of wood.

  • Then, use a gouge to carefully remove excess wood and establish the deepest part of the background.
  • But I wasn’t sure of the relief carving properties of butternut and Honduran mahogany – how well they hold detail, problems chipping or splintering, etc.
  • Since the carving is quite shallow, you need only use a board 3/4″ to 1″-thick.
  • Now with a gouge or skew the background can be carved away by pushing your tool into the stop cut.
  • Make several strokes until you have reached your estimated depth of this area.

The first step in relief carving is creating a pattern that is drawn on carbon or transfer paper. This pattern will be laid upon the wood panel to be carved and will stay there until the carving has been finished. Watch as Follansbee creates the decorative S-scroll pattern with almost no layout tools, using mostly the curves of his gouges to guide the way. On the other hand, with relief carving, the craftsman carves the image directly into the wood surface. Once complete, the effect appears like a flat surface that has a 3D image protruding from it. Most of the carving example that we have from the early Egyptian and Greek artists are done in a style called Low Relief.

With intaglio, all the wood around the design is carved away, leaving the desired impression. In other words, this technique involves creating a negative image by carving everything below the surface of the wood. Once the proper depth of the objects has been added, the carver will begin to add the details of the objects. For example, if the carver had modeled a fish, he could now start carving to add scales and the other details he had outlined to add.

Tool Sharpeners

This is when the project will begin to take its shape as the carver adds depth to his/her pattern. The carver will be carving around the outline he/she made and bringing the objects into a 3-D perspective. The pattern has been transferred and the carver is ready to work on the panel. This stage requires the bulk of the carving phase, removing the excess material from around the pattern in order to set up the cutting details.

Carver’s Numbers Stamp Set

This style swaps out the whittling tool for the good old chisel and hammer. Whittling is when you carefully shave small pieces of wood off a work piece. Whats more, this specific type of wood craft is just right for beginners. Especially since it requires very few tools, and needs next to no workshop space.