Case Study

Tradition & Technology - Joe Valasek

We have written about the work of Joe Valasek, owner of Heartwood Carving, on a number of previous occasions yet we felt his latest project definitely deserved a case study feature.

The Perfect Mix Of Tradition And Technology

Here we cast the spotlight over what Joe describes as “the most ambitious relief-carving project” he’s ever done using ArtCAM®. The project is comprised of an eight-foot high set of doors created for a public art project at the headquarters of the Oregon Department of Forestry in Salem. The doors' frames were made from Douglas Fir and the panels Cherry.

Below, Joe describes how he managed to produce these stunning carvings using a mixture of ArtCAM, a Roland® PICZA scanner and some hand carving.

"Some areas had a fair amount of hand carving but maybe 85% of the panels were carved on the CNC [where the] thickness is one inch.

I started with a sketch. I've carved several murals and doors in the past, so I sort of knew what might be likely to work. I carve most of my trees by hand, using rotary tools, and then I digitise them with the PICZA scanner. Then I build the hills and lakes or streams in ArtCAM and add the digitized model trees to them in the software. There are a lot of steps, but each one is fairly simple."

There are maybe five or six different trees in the forest so I resize, reverse, skew the branches up and down a bit and sometimes take out a branch or two to make different looking trees from the same ones. Then I create a group of trees with maybe 10 or 15 that look nice together and save it. After each hill is built, I add the groves to them, sometimes reversing and then fill in the gaps with individual trees. The next hill back in the distance gets the same process, but with all smaller trees to create the perspective.

For carving I usually start with a half-inch ballnose or larger and then just run it with a large step about a tenth inch high. Then a one-eighth inch ballnose takes it from there, usually with a 10% step.

This project is a classic example showing how a master craftsman can effectively use ArtCAM to increase productivity without losing the personal hand crafted touch. And because Joe developed the individual elements of the design (trees, animals etc.) and has them stored on the computer he is now able to use them in other projects.

We are sure you will all agree that this is an awesome project and a fantastic use of Autodesk’s ArtCAM!"