re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Posts tagged “wood carving tips

223. Practice what you preach. Questions not to ask, and other things not to say to crafters.

Have you heard that before? I have. And I have said it to many of my students and friends. That makes it all the harder to visit craftsmen and crafts women and not do the same silly or careless thing. Ask those questions all craftspeople always need to answer – what kind of wood (material) is that? Is that as easy to do as it looks? How long did that take. Is it your own idea or did you copy that? Below is another kind of list, things not to say.

But now comes the “judgment of charity.” I always need to remember the visitor is trying to reach out, trying to gain some kind of understanding or to initiate conversation in a world they don’t really understand. Be prepared for the silly(I can do that) to the mundane(What kind of…). Embrace the opening gambit. Play the “game” with joy and pleasure. Perhaps your kindness and acceptance will spark greater things.


“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Prov 22:6


97 carving ideas


I am always looking for carving ideas.  Now that I almost always have an iPad with me it is easier to capture some of them quickly.  This photo hangs in a hallway in my Uncle Georg’s house in western Germany.  What caught my attention was the roof lines and the texture the artist shows us.  Having done many roofs, what I note is shapes and shadows.  Also, on the building to the right, my eye is caught by the strong line near the top denoting the final layer of thatch.  The question is then, how can that be replicated in wood.  Which tool works best, what will be the most efficient way to make those cuts.  For anyone who has not carved, part of the issue is the direction ones cut, up from the bottom of the roof or down from the top.  Experimental cuts need to be made to determine what happens to grain wood, how the grain reacts.

Sorry about the quality of this photo.  However, for my purposes, this is good enough.  What is appealing to me is the roof lines of the buildings, how they sit together, the shadows, and how the artist has created texture.  While the photo is fuzzy, the relationship between the buildings is strong enough to be appealing.  Hope you have some ideas to share.  Or, if you use some ideas from these pictures I would love to see them.


Comfort, comfort my people says your God.  Isaiah 40:1

85 Other ideas: Finding inspiration in the art work of others

Finding inspiration in all kinds of places takes work and a willingness to see, for a moment, the world as others see it. Artists catch a glimpse of the world’s beauty, translate it, record it, comment on it in a variety of mediums, display it in many creative ways.  One of the things I like to do is browse the art work of others.  Their pieces inspire me.  I ask, “How could I do that in wood?”

So, here are three stain glass pieces by my friends, Mel and Joy VanEssendelft.  Sorry, these three were auctioned of recently, so if you like one like them you would have to contact me or track them down.

How might you use their ideas for a piece of your own?

This could be a pierced relief to let the sunshine through when it is completed.

I believe that this piece done in wood has to have a textured back ground.  This would give the same feel as the clear diamond pieces of glass here.

The yellow “picture frame” around the daffodils would look good as a strong wood border around flowers set deeply into the wood.

No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. —C.H. Spurgeon

# 59 Wood Carving: M R DUCKS and things you discuss as you carve 2

Y I B,  M R DUCKS* (see translation at bottom of post)

Believe it or not, this little five-line scribble makes for a whole afternoon conversation in my Junior High carving classes.  We take it apart and explore what it could mean.  Mostly nonsense it seems.  I usually put it up when the first level carvers get to their second project.

Turned, not carved, wooden eggs


The first project is an egg.  They begin with a square block of wood.  We learn to draw on the lines without using a ruler.  That drives some students crazy.  They want to measure everything, worried they will get it wrong if the lines aren’t straight.  Don’t get me wrong, we do want straight lines, but we want to explore other ways to accomplish those lines.  They are taught how to hold a pencil with several fingers and how to let the rest of the fingers act as guide.

Template for ducks

Sample of duck begun

Detail of  hardest part

The second project is a DUCK.  The class receives a duck rough out or blank.  The difficulty level increases from egg to duck.  On the egg the class learns to deal with different types of cuts and end grain of the wood.  On the duck we learn how to deal with compound curves on a square hunk of wood and how to deal with wood grain.  The wood grain makes carving the ducks neck difficult.  Wood grain requires learning different types of cuts and watching how the wood comes off.  More on that later.

Detail of rock and tail

Cedar duck – fire rescue piece

Burn marks visible on head/back

Of course, the ditty at the front end of this post drives them crazy until they get it.  Then they have loads of fun with it.  And we get to try many other versions of it.  I borrowed this “alphabet” idea from William Steig and his books “C D B” (See the bee) and “C D C”(See the sea).  Lots of fun.  Try it.  C what U can do with M, O, I B impressed.

I found a site which gives you a taste of Steig’s creativity:

On page 8 a hen sits contentedly on a nest of eggs. The letters above her say “D N S 5 X.” which creatively translates into the words “The hen has five eggs.”

On page 13 a boy is pointing down at his pet dog with the admonishment “I M A U-M B-N. U R N N-M-L.” which translates into “I am a human being. You are an animal.”

Page 15 shows a deer standing in a bush of green foliage with the caption “D D-R S N D I-V.” which of course means “The deer is in the ivy.”

Source of the material above –

I C U later.

*Translation:  Them are ducks.  Them are not. Oh, yes they are, see the itty bitty wings. Why, I’ll be, them are ducks.

“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.”  Proverbs 16:9