Wolf Kiessling's Bust of Cochise

One way to turn a log into art.

SHOP OWNER: Wolf Kiessling

     I am frequently asked about the process I use to sculpt human busts. Consequently, I decided to document two different processes I use. These are not sculpting or wood carving tutorials, rather, just some general information with some pictures to illustrate my techniques.
    The two processes differer mainly in how the rough bust is created; after that, there is not much difference.    I used the first process (illustrated here) for a bust of the Chiricahua Apache Chief, Cochise. Essentially, this bust was free-form shaped from round stock using a photo for a model. This can be rather tricky. This project took between 80 and 90 hours from start to finish.
    I'm using the other process for a bust of Jessie Chisholm, for whom the Chisholm Trail is named. For that process, I make paper patterns of the front view and at least one profile, and transfer them to a rectangular blank. Then I cut out the rough shape using a bandsaw.
Rough Turning the Blank

    Fig. 1 - A 14" h. x 10" dia. catalpa log
is turned to a 14" x 8" round shape.
The base of the sculpture is defined.

Wolf Kiessling's Bust of Cochise
    Fig. 2 - A rough outline of the bust is shaped using a 4" grinder. Basically, the headband, face and hair mass are roughly defined.
    Fig. 3 - The face and neck are rough carved.
    Fig. 4 - An area of dry rot, extending from the pith at the top of the head to the right side of the head encompassing the area where the headband knot is located, is exposed. Also, during the time span between when the rough outline was grinder shaped and the face and neck were rough carved (approximately three months), the bust has split from the top of the head to almost halfway down the back of the head. The decision was made to simply clean out the dry rot but not patch or fill this area or the split. If this area would have been filled, it would not have been done as an invisible repair but rather with a contrasting epoxy/inlace mix.

Wolf Kiessling's Bust of Cochise
    Figs. 5, 6 - The hair, headband, shirt and necklaces are rough carved.

Wolf Kiessling's Bust of Cochise


Fig. 7, 8 - Everything is now detail carved and refined. The bust is sanded from 100 to 240 grit; all fuzzies and scratches are removed. The title "COCHISE" is burned into the base. It is finished with three coats of Danish oil.

. . . Wolf Kiessling



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