Sometimes to improve the line and flow of our sculptures we need to remove a portion of the word that interrupts that line. Nature often gives us too much of a good thing and we end up with the crazy-quilt of angles, knobs, and knot holes.
Some of the beauty of the piece is lost in the jumble of extra parts that interfere with the overall harmony. But do not cut away these intrusions too soon. Scrape and sand until you are really convinced these parts must be removed. Start with the dark or black cloth to cover the parts you feel should be illuminated. Look at it from all angles, as so many times What we first see to feature isn’t really the best aspect of the wood. Many times we tried to emphasize the eagle and overlook the hidden lion or something like that.
Twist the piece to find the best presentation. Have others study your piece to see if they see another way or view that you hadn’t seen before. For example there was one time when an ugly appendage that was destined to be removed ended up being the pivotal base of a graceful fawn. On the other hand do not preserve that part or parts that create chaos within the sculpture.
Look for that peaceful flow of energy that creates a great sculpture. If there is more than one part that needs removal eliminate the first one, stop and review the overall look, then do that to the next removal, and so on, always reviewing the decision to be sure it is what you want.
Sometime shaping and smoothing that awkward appendage will soon be enough and it will not be necessary to totally remove it. You can always remove it later, but you can never put it back so be careful in these decisions.
When it is for the overall benefit of the sculpture for a limb to be removed try to do it in such a way that the man track created can be easily smooth, carved, or soften to blend into the piece. Sometimes a micro plane or rough rasp is enough to soften the edges. Cut branches leave evidence of the growth rings exposed, but carefully shaping and sanding will solve that problem. You are always the final word in what stays and what should go. Your “Artist’s Eye” will be your guide.