Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Carving Countries

After finishing up the fiberglass sphere that will become the globe, we are almost ready to start carving countries.

First two sections of the Arctic ocean
The first step was to trace out a grid.  With the help of a protractor and flexible plastic spline, I drew lines every 15 degrees latitude and 10 degrees longitude.  These lines every 10 degrees longitude correspond to the edges between the 36 gores on the map I am using as a template.

Each cell of this grid becomes one section that will be carved out of wood veneer.  I bought an assortment of domestic and exotic wood veneers which provide ample selection for coloring the countries.  I also bought sequence-matched white oak for the water.

Tracing countries
The general process for a given cell is to use carbon paper to trace out the largest piece of country in that cell onto the selected piece of wood veneer.

Using a rotary tool, carve out the shape of that piece.  This then serves as an edge guide when tracing the next piece in the cell.  Small errors accumulate and result in subtle shifts of various borders; hopefully nobody notices.

The carved pieces are glued to each other, and then once a cell is complete it is glued onto the sphere.With time and patience you slowly get something that becomes recognizable.

Wooden Globe, North Pole Wooden Globe, North Pole Wooden Globe, Arctic Circle

These pictures represent approximately two years of work. The final picture below is the current state of the globe as it sits in my basement.
Wooden globe, Europe and Northern Africa
Not quite half finished

In retrospect, I am not entirely happy with my choice of woods on some of the countries.  For example, Britain really should be a darker color to contrast more with the ocean.  I find the striped veneer used on France and Poland tends to clutter Europe a little and a solid color would have been better there.  The stripes in Sudan really should have been aligned between the two cells.  However, due to the time invested here, I'm not inclined to go back and attempt to redo these pieces.

Hopefully the southern hemisphere won't take as long.  The hardest part is done, however all the islands in the south pacific will present their own special challenge.