Design A Template

Sarah (my wife) & I have a houseboat on a lake about an hour from our home. There are many birds there including Buzzards, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Swan & Heron. This must be where the Heron became my favorite bird. So after deciding to sculpt one in an upcoming competition, I started gathering photos.
When gathering photos my objective is to capture just 1 aspect of the animal I am going to create. These first 2 photos show very nice photos of a herons body, neck & head.
These 2 photos show the wings silhouette and details
Finally, this one shows their long skinny legs
Using all of the above reference, I made this drawing

Figuring out where you are going to get the ice from & how to stack it is called the “Block Layout”

Spend a lot of time on your block layout, make your design as large as possible while still maintaining proportions. I kept reducing the size of my bird until all of the parts just fit in the block. Notice that the delicate pieces have spares. Can you see where to get an extra wing tip from? Can you see where to get ice for 2 spare legs?

Wings have action, so I did this drawing to figure out how to stack the wings. This may seem unnecessary, but I like it because during a short competition (this one was only 2 hours) valuable time can be spent thinking about how to stack the wings. Having a diagram can hasten the process.
Next, I made the templates. Notice the extra pieces on the right & the temporary support under the tail. Temporary supports add a lot of strength to the piece while carving. Carefully remove them towards the end of the competition.
1 Block 2 hours
Cut out Head & flip block
Break down block
Freeze on tail / angle cut base
Freeze on wings
0.5 Freeze on head
1 Carve Bird
0.25 Carve base & legs
0.25 Clean

Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice

While practicing, jot down times when you reach certain benchmarks. During the competition refer to you benchmarks. If you are falling behind consider a slight modification to your design. For instance if I ran short on time, which I did, I would not carve the spare legs completely. I just left the ice in a safe place in case I needed it at the very end. I would much rather have had 2 spare legs completely carved, but I had to make an adjustment.

Tools required
Templates Bucket
Layout jig brush
Chainsaw Tracing bit
X cord & pigtails 1/4″ die grinder
Wing Alum Foam
Iron 12 x 12 alum
Junichi Sand paper
Lg die grinders small bubble
Shaper vee bit
Face burr eye ball maker
Syringe marker
Green sander
Sm chisel Torch

Do you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, Practice, Practice

I practiced the heron twice.

As you practice, jot down all of the tools you used. By doing this, you will know exactly what tools to pack for that competition.

The finished piece. It was very difficult to photograph because of a large snow bank right behind it. Sarah had to crouch way down to get this photo. This sculpture earned a gold medal 🙂