re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Posts tagged “hand carved

Work in Progress. A Wee Whale

Basswood whale in progress. It began as a block 6 x 3 x 3. If you have looked through previous posts you have seen larger whales, half whales, and whales on driftwood. This piece was an experiment in making it mini so it would fit on a smaller shelf or in a better way on a desk or end table.

I like the overall feel of the work. The markings, while perhaps not realistic, give some sense of the wrinkles and folds, the hard treatment a whale’s hide can get. It’s cute.

Work to be done? Painting. I like the light wash of color several of the other whales have. There is no strong grain here so color will add another layer of interest. I painted and earlier basswood piece a solid “whale” grey. Not sure if I really liked it. This one will get a wash. Finally, then, finding a piece of wood on which to mount it and the angle of the mounting. Suggestions? The finished piece may take a while to arrive since the whale in is Michigan and I am in China.


“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Prov 16:18


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

206 Carving in the Round. Caricature. Banana Hat.

Tom Wolfe. I believe his book is the origin of this carving design. It was an enjoyable piece to work on. When completed it would hang on a banana hook on a shelf or mantel. It could also be interesting to be on a counter next to the banana bowl or a second banana hook.

The banana hat is interesting. But the eyes are the attracting point for me. It is basswood, 4x4x12. Folk Art paint watered down 15 to 1. Sprayed with urethane, dripped in dark stain and then respirated.

Of course, I can see many things to change, but that is another story. What would you change?


“Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise.” Prov 15:31

204 Cottonwood bark. Sailor/Sea Captain.

Trying to add pictures to this blog in a new way. Not sure if it will work.

The piece is a sailor/sea captain in cottonwood bark. I really like the size of this carving. Also, the overall look and “feel” is right. I imagine him on the Grand Banks, ala Rudyard Kipling’s “Captains Courageous” story. Have you seen Spencer Tracey in the movie?(Movie okay, book far better)

The color of the bark gives the figure a sun-bronzed look. Perfect for a weathered sailor. The white beard and hair catch some of the white flecks in untouched bark. An enjoyable piece to carve.


“A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” Prov 15:23

203. Carving in the round. Square Father Christmas.

Well, perhaps not completely round. It is a unique piece, nonetheless. A change from all the round, rolly polly figures one sees.

The layout for this carving took longer than the actual carving. I do like the formal effect that the straight lines and symmetrical shapes give to the piece. I also like the shadows created by the gouge lines in the hair and beard.

Hope you are enjoying your hobby too.


“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Prov 15:22

202. Carving in the round. Friend/Indian/Native American/Ancient Invader/Neighbor?

It’s a carving. It isn’t a political statement. It isn’t intended to be demeaning or defaming. It is of an Indian/Native American/tribe member/one of any number of tribes. He is holding cigars. There was a connection between him and tobacco. His clothing and head piece are an attempt at catching what he may have worn four hundred years ago. His features may be a caricature, may have some resemblance of someone past or present.

It’s a carving. Well done? I like the face. The lines are clean and clear. The hands and feet fit the description of caricature, overly large, exaggerated. I also like the coloring of skin and lion cloth. Both came out satisfactorily.

It’s a carving. Some friends are holding a sale this month. Hoping this piece goes. How much would you offer for it?


“A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict, but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.” Prov 15:18

200 What hobbies do you have? Carving and reading.

This is my 200th post. That should be something special. The picture below combines two of my favorite hobbies. One is obviously wood carving. The other is reading. What better thing to carve than books. (By the way, I just finished an excellent and informative book entitled, “China’s Examination Hell.”)

The books are carved from several different types of wood – white pine, basswood, and cedar. I enjoy trying to create pieces that look like old, leather-bound, well-loved books. Most are in private collections in Michigan.

Some day I may find time to tell you about other hobbies I have – learning foreign languages, collecting sand samples, drawing, propagating succulents. What hobbies do you have?


“A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit.” Prov 15:13