re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Archive for January, 2011

#57 Wood carver: Christine Coffman, elegance in wood.

I love the work of Christine Coffman.

Penguins, Pelicans, Bears….Keepsakes…. she captures expression so well. Her carvings are clean, well proportioned. Each one has a touch of elegance about it. The first few pictures here are Christine’s work. Those at the end are my attempts to imitate her. I do hope that this imitation is a sincere form of flattery here.

Penguins with egg, Coffman

Bear with fish, Coffman

Pelicans, Coffman

Keepsake girl, Coffman

I have been practicing for the past few weeks, trying to capture the elegance of Christine’s pieces.  Several of the pieces below are finished.  Others are nearing completion.  I like the impact of the small grouping.  It adds a special appeal to already cute penguins.

First attempt

Second, note smaller beak

Shorter, plumper third

In progress

Polar bear patrol

The entire gang

It has been enjoyable to try and follow Christine’s lead.  You will note, however, that her’s are around two inches tall.  Mine are a bit taller.  More practice.  More fun. Will share more as they arrive.  Happy carving.

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and gracious words promote instruction.” Proverbs 16:21


#56 Wood Carving: Relief carving, hiding at Calvin College.

As I said in an earlier post, #45, I have taken to wandering with camera in hand. You never know when or where you will find a nice carving. I found a beautiful relief carving on the grounds of Calvin College over Christmas. It was in the strangest place. But of course, I can’t tell you where. You will have to find it yourself or write my and ask.

Relief carving, Calvin College

This carving is a relief carving. Wikipedia says, “Relief carving can be described as ‘carving pictures in wood’. The process of relief carving involves removing wood from a flat wood panel in such a way that an object appears to rise out of the wood.” Wiki goes on to say, “Relief carving is a sculptural form in which figures are carved in a flat panel of wood. The figures project only slightly from the background rather than standing freely. Depending on the degree of projection, reliefs may also be classified as high or medium relief.”

Relief detail, left - Calvin College

Relief detail, right - Calvin College

Relief detail, center, Calvin College

Note then that relief carving, here described as it is done in wood, is identified as high, medium or low relief depending on how far work projects from the background, how much undercutting the artist does. Also, note that relief carving is done in many different mediums – plastic, metal, bone, ivory, even fruit.

There are many neat details in this piece.  I like the expression on the goat’s faces.  The couple is bent to the task.  You can almost hear the oars working.  The sea gulls stand in their typical disinterest awaiting the fish remains a fishing couple might throw out of the fish house to the left.

One other detail for you to notice.  Look closely at the edge treatment here.  This carving is done on one solid piece of wood.  The artist has done a great job of setting off the carving by lowering the work into the wood and then highlighting the framing effect of the outside edge by painting an orange strip around the piece.


#55 Other wood work: David Belser at Midwest Carvers Museum and Workshop

Wood turning Demo
David Belser

d belser radial basket

Turning an open lattice bowl.
Saturday Feb 19th
9am to 1pm
Demo Cost $20
Sponsored by the Illiana Woodturners the AAW newest Chapter
on the grounds of
Midwest Carvers Museum
16236 S. Vincennes Rd
South Holland, IL 60473
Info : Contact Tom Waicekauskas 630-248-0242

radial basket close up



David Belser is a professional turner from New Hampshire, President of the Granite State Woodturners. He was featured at the AAW 2010 Hartford Symposium as a Emerging Artist Demonstrator. He participated in a local exhibit at the Vail Gallery in Chicago for Nov 2010. David will be in for the Lubeznik Gallery opening on Feb 18th for the exhibit “Through the Woods, Around the Block”. A number of his turn-ing have appeared in the AAW Magazine over the last several years. You will witness a very unique style and concept of wood turning.

belser box





Come join us and see our grounds and workshop.


“How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to get insight rather than silver!” Proverbs 16:16

#54 Wood Carving: Father Christmas, Santa, holiday carvings

Father Christmas completed as promised.

A “gaggle” of carvings


As you can tell there are a passel of carvings completed here. To follow up on the story line you will need to go back to posts #21 and #25. In post #21 we introduced the process from blocks of wood to blanks to roughing out the shape.  The blocks of wood were remains of other carvings varying in size from 1.5 x 1.5 x 4 to 3 x 3 x 8.  Larger ones are in the works.

Short and wide

Tall and slender

Petit, inset face.

In post #25 we worked on details.  Hair, mustache, eyebrows and robe fur were added with various size gouges.  The eyes were set in place after a spot for them had been created.  The eyes are elongated deep chip cuts.  Also, one of the carvings has a coat of oil stain, a first attempt for me.  I did not use oil on the other carvings.

Each size with its own challenges


So, here we have the last step. I have painted the carvings with a wash of acrylic paints. I used Folk Art Bright Red, Pure White and Metal Gold. The red was diluted with water at a ratio of about 15 drops water to one drop paint. The white had much less water, just enough so that the paint would run into the cracks and not gob up or clump up.  The metal gold was painted on straight from the bottle. The final step was to dip each carving into boiled linseed oil which has a dab of burnt sienna oil pigment in it.

1.5 x 1.5 x 6.5 inches


I decided, after I had finished them of course, that a touch of green somewhere would have looked nice. Perhaps standing them on a green doily would make it work or surrounding them in a bunch of greens at Christmas time would give the color accent I am thinking of.

Two largest carvings at 3 x 3 x 8 inches

The pictures were taken outside in the sunshine – in December no less.  I used a Canon Digital Elph – PowerShot, SD 1200 IS.  I put up a card table and covered it with a white sheet.  The natural light really makes the shadows work well.  After loading the pictures on my computer I copied them into a new folder and then re-sized them for quick export into the blog or to friends on line.


They are cute.  Five of them have been given away already as Christmas presents.   If you have an interest in them, let me know.

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.  Proverbs 15:2

#53 Other Wood Working: Duneland Wood Carving Show.



The show will held at Woodland Park, in the Oakwood Grand Hall. The park is located at 2100 Willowcreek Road, Portage, Indiana, 46368.

Admission is $4.  Children under 12 enter free.

The show is open to the public:

SATURDAY, APRIL 16, 2011 – 10 AM TO 5 PM.

SUNDAY, APRIL 17, 2011 – 10 AM TO  4PM

Best of show 2010

Third best of show 2009










Second best of show 2009

Let me invite you to the show!  Do come and spend a few hours enjoying the displays, the demonstrations, the sales, and the welcoming atmosphere of a carving show.  Meet many fine carvers, ask questions, join in the demonstrations, maybe even buy a knife and some wood.  Would love to see you there.

#52 Other forms of wood working: Intarsia- Elvis, roses, nativity and more.

Someone asked me what “Intarsia” was after I used it in a past post.   It is a style of wood working.  Wikipedia says, “Intarsia is a form of wood inlaying that is similar to marquetry.”

Intarsia, Wikipedia, Wolf

Intarsia nativity 2

intarsia rose

Of course you might ask what marquetry is.  Wikipedia says here, “Marquetry (also spelled as marqueterie) is the art and craft of covering a structural carcass with pieces of veneer  forming decorative patterns, designs or pictures”

Marquetry picture

Marquetry furniture

Elivs in intarsia

“Intarsia is a woodworking technique that uses varied shapes, sizes, and species of wood fitted together to create a mosaic-like picture with an illusion of depth. Intarsia is created through the selection of different types of wood, using their natural grain pattern and color (but can involve the use of stains and dyes) to create variations in the pattern. After selecting the specific woods to be used within the pattern, each piece is then individually cut, shaped, and finished. Sometimes areas of the pattern are raised to create more depth. Once the individual pieces are complete, they are fitted together like a jig-saw puzzle and glued to wood backing which is sometimes cut to the outline shape of the image.” Wikipedia

Intarsia, amish children

Intarsia nativity 1

Intarsia, orca pattern

The pattern above is the beginning of an intarsia piece. The artist lays out colors and wood choices.  The pattern is copied onto paper which is pasted on to the selected wood and cut out.  Each piece is then fitted into the primary pattern just like a jigsaw puzzle as you can see in the next picture.

Intarsia, process 1

I like how intarsia highlights the beauty of wood’s color and grain.  The craftsmanship in shaping, choosing and assembling the pieces is truly great.  I love the look and texture of a well done intarsia piece.

Intarsia, lute – an amazing piece

However, I have not tried it myself.  Perhaps after I master wood carving, wood turning, wood finishing, playing the harmonica, learning Chinese and a few other hobbies I have laying around.  But, perhaps intarsia is your hobby!  Let me know if you do pick it up.  I would like to see your work too.

“How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!”  Proverbs 16:16

# 51 Other fine wood work: Indiana walnut box now elegant carving epuipment

Another post so soon?

Someone has made a request to see pictures of a gift I received.  So here it is, a little early for my next post, but once you see this box you will agree it is worth enjoying.


Walnut carving tool box

The walnut for this box was harvested from land in Munster, Indiana.  My brother Rick cured the wood, had it planked and dried it.  Then he put this fine box together.  Check out more of his boxes and other work at You should see his canoe and kayak paddles!

It will be a grand way to carry around my tools. Ought to look better than the reused Clementine boxes I am presently lugging around.

Beautiful joints and corners

A little wax and the cover slides

Elegant lines