If you've read this blog for a while you may know that I am obsessed with a particular way of making hoods that depends on a wooden form to help create the curves needed to make a hood fit extremely well. This is especially useful when working with heavier, less stretchy leather, which may need some "encouragement" to stretch in certain areas in order to accommodate the chin for example. I got the idea from watching how shoes are made, typically over a last that helps shape the leather over the form of the foot. For many shoe-making procedures, it's indispensable.
I just finished carving my second head form, or hood last from wood a couple of weeks ago. It is sized to fit my extra-large head. At least I think my head is big - 24-inch diameter around the forehead at the brow line, and 28 inches from chin to crown. Let's just say I started with a pretty large block of wood.
I used these cardboard strips cut to create loops of a certain size to check the progress as I went along carving the form. I knew that once the loops fit the form, it would be the correct size.
Rather than trying to carve around the nose on the front of the face, I shaped the face first, then glued on a nose-piece after the fact. It made it a bit easier to shape the front of the head, as I didn't have to worry about being careful working around the nose. I could use coarse rasps and files to remove material more quickly.
Placed beside the previous form, you can see it's a bit smoother and better proportioned all around. I definitely learn a lot every time I do one of these... It makes me appreciate the subtle shapes of the different planes of the face, particularly around the chin, and the jaw to neck transition. Next up, I'll do a medium-size. Then one with an open mouth (for gags)? Then make them all in a harder wood? It's never ending, I tell you!