Here are a few images of some of the letters I carve for my pieces.
I sketch out a whole bunch of images about a piece and what, if any, text may be built into it. Then I layout the individual letters on a trim scrap from a larger (fatter) board. I go over the pencil with black marker so I can see it easier when I am carving.
This is the carving bit I use in my Dremel Tool. I go through a bunch of these little suckers in the course of a year!
A 'staged' action shot of me carving and then the finished 'L'.
I have found out the hard way that if I don't immediately put the letters for one piece/expression into a plastic bag as soon as I am done carving them out and cutting them into individual blocks, I quickly forget their purpose and just end up dumping them into my sizable 'Miscellaneous' Bag.
The 'L' you saw above was destined for a piece tentatively called 'Drive-By Ladies a Lady-ing' which is one of the mandatory 'gift' pieces I am handing over to Heidi Hernandez for our 'Merican-Tastic!' show this coming August. Here is the whole piece as it will be handed off to Heidi:
I also have been repainting a couple of older carved pieces from around 2003-2004. They both survived Hurricane Katrina at the Next II Gallery in New Orleans, but did not survive unscathed. After 7 years, I finally find myself in the mood to repaint them. Some of my other carved pieces did not fair so well from the experience (apparently all of those little cut grooves are an ideal place to start growing mold...). However both Conquistador Nuevo and Bombardment came out mold-free and ready to be rescued.
I carved a few extra elements and extended a few lines in order to give Bombardment a 'proper' paint job.
Although this wood is also from that same demolition project back in 2000, it was from a dismantled cabinet which was a substantially harder/meaner wood than the stuff I carve my letters out of (and yes, wood can be mean...).
It's still not completely finished, but I think you get the idea what direction it is heading in.
The other piece I am currently repainting is Conquistador Nuevo.
Finally, we close with Ziggurat. It also survived Katrina and was a motivating factor in going down to New Orleans to rescue my stuff. Previously, I had worked out a trade with Terry Rathje that involved Ziggurat for his cool piece Corrodeo (which is now resides in New Mexico with my sister and her family). Here is a link to Terry's website so you can check out Corrodeo in all of its glory! http://www.terryrathje.com/#!__assemblage/photostackergallery1=13. Well, I wasn't going to leave Terry without more stuff to pack into his house/studio. In an upcoming post I plan to show some shots from Terry's studio. For my own amusement, I should also note how many of the things you see are 'art treasures' I have unloaded on Terry. Did I say 'unloaded'? I meant to say 'graciously passed along'....
Ziggurat is carved into a door from that same demolition project. At my current rate of carving, I have calculated that I have roughly 10 years worth of wood left.