Jesse Chisholm Bust

CARVING A COWBOY
A wood carver's steps for creating a life-like bust.

SHOP OWNER: Wolf Kiessling
LOCATION: Marlow, OK

    When I decided to carve a bust of Jesse Chisholm, after whom the Chisholm Trail is named, it occurred to me to first produce a generic bust of a cowboy. This could serve as a model in creating a series of cowboy busts by using a duplicator.
Figure 1

    Fig. 1 - The first step was to prepare a front view and right profile pattern. It is important that the proportions of both patterns match exactly. The size of the pattern is the same as the rectangular piece of wood to which it will be transferred.
Figure 2

    Fig. 2 - The rough blank is cut using the bandsaw.
Figure 4 Figure 3

    Fig. 3, 4 - The bust is now rough carved. I determined that too much wood was removed from the hat, coat and under the chin during this process. Consequently, these areas were backfilled with wood filler.
Figure 5

 

    Fig. 5, 6, 7 - The wood filler is shaped so that the desired form is achieved. This is now a good piece ready for the duplicator. To help preserve it, I covered it with a heavy coat of acrylic paint.
Figure 6 Figure 7
Figure 8

 

    Fig. 8 - Suitable wood is selected, in this case pieces of an aspen log, and placed on the duplicator along with the model.
Figure 9

    Fig. 9 - When the piece comes off the duplicator it is somewhat larger than the original. It was deliberately left extremely rough to allow deviation from the original. This way, I can leave the bandanna or remove it, change the clothing as necessary and carve the facial features as appropriate. The face could be bearded or clean-shaven. The facial characteristics of the Jesse Chisholm model are quite different from the duplicator model.
Figure 10

    Fig. 10 - I went to the Chisholm Trail Heritage Center and photographed the animated, three-dimensional likeness of Jesse Chisholm to serve as a model for the carved bust. I had previously decided to carve my version as a cowboy rather than the trader as shown at the museum. However, I maintained the integrity of the facial features by making the eyes squinted more because the bust depicts him looking up at the sky.
Figure 11

    Fig. 11 - The completed bust is mounted on a pedestal fashioned from red oak. The oak pedestal was cut and oiled while the bust was being worked on but during the interim it cupped badly. It had to be reshaped and refinished before the bust could be mounted on it. The entire piece measures 17"h x 8"w x 6.5"d and is finished with five coats of fruitwood colored Danish oil.
Figure 13

    Fig. 13, 14, 15 - These are some examples of the detail work under the bust.

 
. . . Wolf Kiessling

Figure 14 Figure 15
 
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