A Sense of Scale

Use your computer to get the size of your carving right.

By: Tom Baldwin

A cardinal by any other size is not accurate. Scale matters.

Every time I attend a carving show I am reminded of my own beginnings in the bird carving world. My very first songbird was a winter-poised, fluffy black-capped chickadee. I compared it with other chickadee carvings at its first show and I realized how much I had misjudged the true size of this bird. My chickadee was more the size of a white-throated sparrow, with so much “fluff” it looked obese. It was at this moment that I recognized the importance of establishing the proper scale of the carving early in the planning process.
When designing my patterns I rely on many different research materials. Besides books, I use study skins from the Natural History Museum, taxidermy mounts from local park districts, bill castings, and measurements obtained at bird banding activities. I find that my reference materials often present slightly different information about the size of a particular bird. Because these references give me small yet significant variations of scale, I have added computer graphics as an additional and essential tool in the application of scale to the design of the carving.


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