One of my favorite projects that I had the opportunity to work on in 2017 was a carved walnut column for a friend’s house in Canterbury, NH. He provided me with a turned column of black walnut that was made from a tree he had salvaged many years ago, so by the time it came to me to carve it was dry and stable. The size and shape of the column was determined by the niche on the exterior of his home, and I designed something to wrap fully around the column. The design inspiration started from plant forms in Norwegian Stave Church portal carvings, and I adapted them into an original design loosely based on acanthus leaf patterns – thus the title Acanthish. The pattern repeats, flipped, and it fully connected around the diameter of the column.
Once the pattern was transferred and drawn onto the column I used a Dremel router bit with a depth attachment that I glued 1/4″ wooden strips onto, like a sled, to help keep the depth even on the curved surface. The column was mounted to the bench using two Veritas carving vises, attached to the center of each end, which allowed the column to spin, but also allowed for it to lock firmly in place while carving. Once all the little recesses were routered to the same depth I move the column from the workshop onto the carving bench, where I would carve the remainder of the project using only hand tools.
The pattern consists of three spiraling motifs along the length, for a total of twelve motifs around the full column. I worked on each section at a time and slowly worked my way up and down the column, turning it as I made progress. The video at the bottom of the page shows the finished column turning around, and gives a better visual on how the pattern flows around the column.
The Acanthish Column is now at home atop a custom built granite wall at the top of a hill in Canterbury, with an expansive view of the lovely New Hampshire landscape that surrounds it. The combination of the dark wood and the deeply cut pattern makes for a dramatic affect as the light moves across the carving from morning to evening, that subtlly changes as the seasons pass.
I documented the carving process extensively on the Ninth Wave Designs Instagram account, and I have put together a gallery of those images here to show the details of that process.