first attempt on claw ball feet

When I started making miniatures I realized the huge variety in skills & crafts needed. That, combined with all the different styles to choose from is what keeps me going. It never ceases to challenge me, and keeps me interested. It's fun to examine and learn about the history of furniture styles and lot's has been written about joinery, carving wood and constructions. Reading about it is one thing, trying it out is an other.

One of the things on my list was to have a go at carving claw and ball feet (or ball and claw feet, just as you prefer). You may find it in many pieces of furniture; tables, chairs and cabinets. It is said to have originated in the early 18th century in Europe and it has spread from England further on to America. Very much associated with Chippendale and Queen Ann furniture.

For convenience reasons i used ordinary cabriole legs that are sold by the million in every dolls house shop. Too big & no detail, so perfect to practice on. I had to work with the given shape, and the amount of wood available. I am pleased with the outcome, but can still see lots and lots of room for improvement. The wood for instance is ordinary basswood or limewood. Easy to carve but too soft for greater detail.

The ball is too small in comparison to the claw. I was too conservative in carving the claw, cos I'm always scared to carve away too much. It's a cliché but you can carve some more, but you can never add : )

I did all to be symmetrical in lining up the claws. Pleased with that but the amount the flesh or web that retracts upwards between the two front talons isn't equal.

I over sanded the right side of the ball, and lost detail there. I did that late last night, after being at it for a some time. I know that isn't the right time to finish a piece. I should have set it aside it till the morning so I would start at it with a fresh mind. But hey! I was having fun and lost the patience, for I was eager for the end result.

And finally, the back claw doesn't look right. Too odd, too straight... Anyway, it's a practice piece so I'm allowed to make some mistakes. Now it's a case of transforming those mistakes into something better.


  1. Buena idea de transformar las patas comerciales. Muy buen trabajo.

  2. STUNNING!!! I would never have had the courage to try carving myself, but you make it sound almost easy. I think you made a perfect result...

  3. Mooie klauw en bal. Zelf gefreesd.

  4. Oh well, I know you'll do perfect but I'd be more than pleased with myself with your tonight result. I'm not as daring as to start carving. Have a nice Sunday, Rosanna

  5. Ja, jij als maker ziet natuurlijk de foutjes maar ik zie vooral een prachtig pootje!!

  6. I sure would be very pleased if I had carved those. I think you did a great job!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Debora, For your first attempt, the results are really stunning! You have done a fabulous job and like Annie said, it took courage to even think about this! It looks Great!!!

  8. Nou ik vind 'm fantastisch! Ik weet hoe zacht dit hout is, en hoe snel je iets wegschuurt, en hoe moeilijk het is om hier überhaupt iets van detail of scherpe lijnen in te krijgen...Ik zie hier al wel wat jij met een mooi stukje perenhout oid zou kunnen doen.
    Ook je getorste pootjes voor de schelpen zijn erg mooi geworden. Ik heb dat ook wel eens gedaan en vond dat erg leuk.
    Ik had je nog willen mailen na Castine, maar het is er niet meer van gekomen. Misschien binnenkort dan nog.
    groet, Josje

  9. That is amazing work for a first attempt! I'm sure if I tried carving something that small I'd be missing a digit or two ;)

  10. Thanks for all your encouraging comments. It's like Chris said, if you made it yourself you know where all the flaws and failures are located. And as I was making the pics for this blog I could see even more detail that would show, but shouldn't. Oooh you know what's like, one moment your fine, the next you almost ruin the piece... grrr

    But i guess it looks okay. As long as you don't compare it with the imaginary feet i had in mind. Remember that I started out with an idea in my mind and the outcome comes close. But I want to get closer.

  11. I totally agree with the others, for your first attempt it's very good. I'm sure you'll get better and better never give up!

    Marisa Stein

  12. It's an amazing result, Debora! For suggestion - I love pear wood, it's great for carving, very nice grain. Also, I saw great pics of the carving process on Ferd Sobol's site, I saw them again in the last issue of American Miniaturist, helped me a lot to understand the whole idea of carving such foot.

  13. I think you have done a fantastic job with the carving Debora, it looks very realistic and nice and fine for mini furniture. I would love to see what you will use it for, a chair, small table?

  14. ¡Que arte! Es cierto que en esta afición podemos desarrollar todas las técnicas. Nunca me hubiera atrevido a hacer lo que tu has hecho. R
    Enhorabuena por decidirte.
    Enhorabuena por los resultados.
    Esa pata siempre la podrás poner detrás de algún mueble y las otras que las harás mejor delante :)
    Si la hubiera hecho yo está muy bien.
    Tu eres muy exigente :)
    Besos Clara

  15. @ Marisa, We Dutch have this saying; A good start makes for half the job. I guess thats what you meant? if so, thank you!

    @ Victoria, Thanks for pointing out Ferd Sobol's. It's mazing how far a thorough and meticulous approach can get you. His work is awesome! I did look out for the pictures on carving the feet. But all i could find was just one that had 20 odd feet at progressive stages. I couldn't enlarge the pic, so it was kind a hard to make out and interpret.

    Still, great link to a great artisan. I strolled his website, all of it : )

    Oooh Margret, i really dont know yet...

    @ Clara, gracias tan generosamente, gracias.

  16. Nou, voor een probeersel ziet het er al fantastisch uit!!! Goed idee ook om die euromini pootjes te bewerken, zo wordt het toch een uniek stukje.
    Groetjes Sylvia

  17. Wat onzettend goed zeg,prachtig!
    De souvenirs met schelp ook erg mooi gemaakt.

  18. What an incredible detail!!!! Love it!

  19. Debora congratulations for this work, you must go on, it is very good for a first attempt.
    Ana Maria


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