re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Posts tagged “gifts

208 Christmas is coming. Father Christmas.

It is possible that you, in this season of Thanksgiving, are already making plans for family gatherings, both the Thanksgiving meal and for the Christmas holiday. Are your carving or crafting preparations coming along well, too?

Here are a couple of older pieces held in private collections in Illinois and Michigan. Father Christmas or Saint Nicolas done in spokes from recycled kitchen chairs. The spokes are maple, a hard wood, a challenge to carve by hand. They would be good for dremel tools or other power tools.

The first step was to skin the varnish and stain layer from each piece. The hardness of the wood meant the stain had not penetrated too deeply. Next step was to decide where on the spoke to place the face and how large the face should be. Once the face was roughed in, the next decision was texturing. What texture would the hair and the beard have?

A further step was shaping the hat and its decoration. You will notice that the piece on the right retains more of the original spoke shape, while on the left the hat has modified the spoke more. A final step was color choices and painting. These pieces are designed to hang in a Christmas tree, adding color and attracting attention to the tree.

What are you working on this season? Anything to share?


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


197 To market, to market. Variety needed.

One of the things I like about a hobby is that you can choose what you want to do or make. Creativity is a key word.

Here is another picture of carved pieces which have gone into a sale. House – some painted some not, lighthouses – some painted and some not, and faces make up part of the variety. But within each group these is even greater choice and variety when one considers size, shape, background, coloration, substructure. All must be decided, created. That is part of the reason I love carving.

What draws you to your hobby?


“A fool spurns a parent’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence.” Prov 15:5

193 Carving in the Round. Basswood Golfer.

We ran out of time in the U.S. All our bags and boxes had to be packed. That included unfinished carvings, carvings knives, bases, brushes and paints.

Here, another unfinished carving but cute anyway. One of the benefits of putting such pieces away is the opportunity of reflecting on what comes next. Among finishing details to consider – paint colors, golf club – bent or unbent, base.

What kind of base would he belong on? Shape of base – round like golf hole or shaped like a trap? Putting green or tee off? Water hazard or sand bunker? Ball on edge of hole? Tee and ball only inches away? Does the shirt have a monogram? Are the shorts plaid or plain? Saddle shoes? Hair color?

Is the golfer a loud mouth fool or just a loud mouth? Is he laughing or crying? Perhaps these decisions will get made next summer.


“A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride, but the lips of the wise protect them.” Prov 14:3

190 Carving in the Round. Big Red

This project is seen here in photos of photos, thus the weak picture quality. It is one of the larger pieces I have done and is part of a private collection in Michigan.

It is a solid block of basswood approximately 15 x 12x 10. I give the dimensions because so much of the work was measuring, cross checking and re-measuring to get a close replica of Big Red. While I did enjoy creating this piece, the measuring and careful rechecking rank right there with sanding near the bottom of my carving tasks list of things to do.

Big Red? Yes, the Holland, Michigan lighthouse at the entrance where Lake Macatawa empties into Lake Michigan at Holland. The carving was done in a red wash while the real lighthouse is a deeper red. Compare the two photos of the l lighthouse in different weather and lighting.

Hope your projects are going well.


“An honest witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours out lies.” Prov 14:5

189 To market, to market to sell…Carvings to sell.

Carvings shown here will be offered for sale by a friend of ours back in the States while we reside here in Beijing.

The first picture shows an array of bark pieces, houses, churches, and a light house/sailboat. It shows the kind of variety I try to have at a sale. For me, this is a combination of what I like and what kinds of pieces have sold in the past, always a marketing challenge.

The second shows event more variety. Here a larger lighthouse, a book carved out of white pine, a sparrow and a related verse from the Bible, and a basswood relief of a recognizable viking.

What would you consider a good variety for a sale? How many carvings would you bring? How do you go about pricing your pieces?


“The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception.” Prov 14:8

185 Carving presentation. Bird Mobile.

Another twist on wood carving. Mobile building.

This piece has Lake Michigan drift wood, Cottonwood bark, basswood, and butternut birds. The birds were carved first to be sold as individual pieces or Christmas ornaments. A relative liked the birds and suggested a mobile. Little did I know what that might involve.

First the type and number of birds were selected. A box full of driftwood was sorted through. Then all pieces were laid out to try to balance color and shape. Easy, right. Then the fun began. How to balance the entire mobile while allowing each part to turn or twist without interfering with other parts. I finally settled on a system of eye-hooks, fishline, paper lips, and rubber bands to temporarily hang birds to the main driftwood holder. This allowed the pieces to be moved easily while giving a chance to observe how they all moved.

That sounds a lot easier than it was. Taking one piece off caused the main stick to tip dumping all the other loose pieces on to the floor. Back to square one each time. At one point the goal seemed to be to balance all pieces so the central drift wood would be horizontal. Repeated resets resulted in the diagonal position in the picture, an improvement on the horizontal original.

Once a general idea of the positions was achieved eye-hooks were attached to the central drift wood and birds were attached in a semi-permanent way. In the end one of the little birds didn’t seem to have a place to hang, so it was superglued to the top right of the central piece. It’s location helped complete the balance.

Private collection, Michigan


“Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin.” Prov 13:3

162 More Christmas tree options. Evergreens, a symbol of hope.

Always looking for creative new ideas. Here are two ways to use scrap or small stock to create holiday gifts. While winter and Christmas are months away, now is a good time to think about projects, materials to gather, scheduling of carving, painting, and deliver of pieces completed.

Posts 127 has two of my creations, one in basswood with bark on it and a second stylized trees in cedar scraps. Post 130 has a mass production version for ideas. Have you any other Christmas tree ideas?


“Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.” Prov 10:17