Commission: Camacho


So this, my friends, is the beginning of something. Hopefully something big that shall be henceforth referred to as Casanova Cigar Carvings. I was contacted by Dylan Austin over at Camacho cigars to explore the possibility of creating a commissioned piece. What did he want, you ask? He wanted it large, incredibly intricate, and he wanted it fast.

So hears the skinny: Camacho was given a piece of wall space at the new Corona Cigar Bar in downtown Orlando. They put whatever they wanted in the spot. With the hopes of filling the space with something unique that would catch peoples eyes and bring the consumer to their brand, they went on the search for something handcrafted and found Casanova Cigar Carvings!

Luckily for me, I was just in the right place. I wasn't working on any carvings since I was on a hiatus of sorts. On top of that I had just successfully proposed in a manner that made me want to retire from the romancing business altogether. A big new project was just what I needed to get back into the swing of things.

Dylan and I quickly worked out details for the project. The carving would be just under 4' wide, would be as intricate as possible, and would need to be done as quickly as possible (we established an ambitious goal of 2 months). The subject of the carving would be the label of the recently debuted Camacho Corojo Tenth Anniversary line. This line is dedicated to the 10th anniversary of making their authentic corojo cigar, which has really been a great line for them. It turns out that I had actually carved the original Camacho Corojo label for myself a few years ago, partly the reason Camacho new about my work.
The above photo shows the label they requested. This is actually the label that appears inside the boxes on the lid, and is a combination of the labels from both the head and the foot of the cigars, along with some extra detail. Note that the colors here are not as they appear on the actual labels. I believe this photo was meant to detail the intricate embossing for the labels.


I'm neck deep in it (the carving, that is). It's a challenge to complete a carving on a rushed time scale, all while you have a full time job. It's even harder when you are trying to maximize the detail and the area that is carved while battling an ever advancing deadline.
Above is my favorite part of the carving. This is a very small detail that I originally wasn't going to carve. After some debate I decided it would be worth the extra time, and think it was. It really came out brilliantly. The six holes that can be seen in the photo were actually made using a cigar punch. I wound up breaking the punch in the process, but I thought it added something unique to the carving. I doubt anyone would have noticed had I not said anything, but it was a fun moment amidst the late night slaving.

Here I am at one of my finest moments. While most of you might want to imagine me working in these conditions all the time, I'm sad to report that this is rare. The majority time, I find myself in a windowless upstairs room that is typically 5 degrees hotter than the rest of the house. Here I was caught working outside with a cigar as my reward. The final plan for the carving was to combine three separate layers of 3/4" MDF.  This was done partly to maximize the depth of the carving, as well as for the ease of the carving. A one piece construction would have been difficult since it's overall size would be way to cumbersome.


It's always a good feeling when you've reached a stage of completion or when you have something to show for your hard work. While I am incredibly far from being complete with the project, I have managed to finish the top portion of the design, which consists of the label that is on the head of the cigar. This portion of the final piece contains the majority of the detail, so reaching this stage is very rewarding.


Late at night, the day before I was scheduled to bring the carving down to Florida, I find myself in the garage doing final touch ups on the piece. To have a completed piece still wasn't enough for me. With the drive to Florida ahead and the ensuing installation was enough to keep me from feeling mentally "finished" with the project.

Final thoughts: I was very happy with the finished product. Then again, after working nearly round the clock on it for 2 months, I really don't think I had comprehended what I had done, what I had created. It being my first commission, I think I was more nervous that anything. I had created pieces for other people in the past, but the money was never there to hold me to a level of quality. Not that I think I ever failed that level, but the stress of knowing I was dictating my own reputation with this piece was unnerving. I guess I should say, Mission Accomplished!


I arrived in downtown Orlando near midnight to check out the Corona Cigar Bar. I don't remember how, but all of the sudden, hanging the carving that night seemed to be the plan. There was a Camacho event the next day, so hang

So there it is. Hopefully the carving will remain there for many years to come. I have to say that parting with the carving was pretty hard. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would since I knew from the start it wasn't meant for my wall. I think when I get home I might have to start some new labels for my personal collection.

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