I Made a Bee!

So, I’ve been meaning to have a go at wax carving for ages, but have instead been doing that procrastination thing that I do, as my one experience of wax carving at college forever ago did not go terribly well. I made a squiggle. It wasn’t even a very good squiggle. Anyway, the UKJC forum that I belong to were having another charm swap so I figured that was the perfect excuse to try out a new technique. The theme of the swap was summer, which always makes me think of hanging out in my grandmother’s garden by the sea as a child, the smell of lavender and big fluffy bumble bees buzzing around. I figured a bee is a lot like a little fluffy ball and therefore a fairly simple shape to carve for my first project. Also, bees are awesome.


And is this not the cutest bee ever? It looks all asleep, bless (original photograph here).

I wanted my little bee to be obviously bee-like, but also kind of cartoony and cute rather than anatomically correct. Not entirely sure anatomically is the right word to use for bugs... Whatever.

Anyway, one of my favourite fabrics, Chloe's Imagination by Tina Givens, has lovely bees on it (I actually made a hat out of it some time ago), so I wanted my bee to look kind of like this:

I also like the bee that lives on Patron Tequilla bottles, so wanted to make a silver version inspired by these:

So, I got me a block of wax and excavated the set of wax carving tools that I optimistically purchased a year or so ago from the depths of my toolbox. Then drew a bee. Then stared at the little wax block for a while. Unfortunately, my brain does not work well in 3D. I see the picture of the bee, I see the bee in my head as a little fluffy ball, but I have no idea how to make one become the other.

Eventually I gave myself a good talking to and just got on with it.

I started off by hacking off bits of wax until it was vaguely bee shaped:

I left the bee drawing on the wax and started removing wax from the underside. When deciding that the bee was simply a fluffy ball and therefore easy to carve, I somehow neglected to take into account the wings. Oops.

I got a bit absorbed in the carving (and developed several blisters on my fingers from the carving tools) so forgot to take any pictures of the inbetween stages, but here I've started work on the top of the bee, shaping the body more and trying to make my poor little brain deal with the wing element.  Also adding some stripes and wing detail.


Adding some eyes and some texture to the body to make it look a bit fluffy:

The wings were the last thing to finish, as they were the most delicate bit - was so scared I was going to snap them and ruin a whole weekend's work...

And we're done! Off to the caster to have the wax turned into silver, and here's my little bee:


I love her little face and big googly eyes :)

Didn't have time to take many pictures, as it was late and I failed to notice I had my ISO level set to, like, 6400 or something ridiculous, so the pictures weren't coming out well. I'll take some more when I get more little bees cast from my mould.