Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Project 5: Asymptote of Affection

For this carving, I wanted to do something specifically for a friend.  I have a friend who is quite the mathematician and who would appreciate something to do with numbers, symbols, and theories moreso than an animal.

Gift-giving is perhaps more revealing than we think it might be.  There are always the comical yet slightly indicative gift-giving habits: those who give gifts to you as if you were them, the acquaintance-becoming-friend who doesn't quite know you well enough to give something appropriate and so buys something expensive, the relative who perhaps wishes you were more of this or more of that and so buys you something to facilitate your miraculous pending personality change, those who used to give you gifts but, due to separation or falling-away, do not any longer (for which they should not be blamed), those sweethearts who, piece by delicate piece, build castles and ramparts as gifts out of toothpicks and popsicle sticks; a castle in the sky.

I hope to have enough time to carve many or most of my gifts.  I wanted to carve a meaningful math symbol.  The infinity symbol came to mind quickly.  For some reason, it seems like infinity symbols would naturally be made of some metal: aluminum, steel, copper.  I really like the softness that the wood lends to the symbol and metaphorical implications that go along with it.  The hard, cold, math symbol of infinity mixed with the materials from a tree - a plant that often takes the role of an adored or longed-for permanence.

Carved, ready to be sanded.

After sanding.

This project was quite a bit of fun.  Carving the holes was particularly stimulating.  I used my curved detail knife - it worked very well.  I started with an appropriately small block of wood and so didn't have to shave off piece after piece to get down to the detailing.  Perhaps the most difficult part was getting the intersection of the curves to look natural.  I discovered a few things about how the eye works to put images together.  The curved bands look like they meet their partners on the other side of the intersection, but if one were to draw a line, I am confident that they would be fairly off.  I think that I perhaps also discovered this 15 years ago while reading the back of a box of Lucky Charms.

The carving took 5-6 hours.  It is about 2 3/4 inches long and is made out of Butternut, a cranky but multi-toned wood.


  1. Nicely done! What's the next project?

  2. Unfortunately, I haven't had much time recently. But I'm thinking I may make a piece of jewelry :)

    A ring, perhaps? I need a drill bit to make a necklace or earrings.

  3. a hand-carved, wooden ring would be suhweet!