re-using, recycling, and redeeming old wood

Posts tagged “woodcarving

#67 Wood carving: Lighthouses and driftwood.

Lighthouse and driftwood, collection of Beth Klompmaker

Visiting family and friends is always a blessing, a good time.  One of the added joys for wood carvers is seeing works that have been gifted or purchased which have been pushed from memory by newer carvings and carving ideas.  This Easter weekend was no different.  The picture above was a driftwood scene I found in my sister-in-laws basement.  I remembered the piece the moment I saw it.

Lighthouse, reverse view

Lighthouse, side view

The first thing carved was the lighthouse itself.  The large size of the driftwood demanded a larger lighthouse carving than I had carved previously.  Once the lighthouse was completed and “tacked” in place the piece called for more.
So, the keeper’s house was next.

Lighthouse and keeper’s house

You will notice that the lighthouse and keeper’s cottage were set into the driftwood.  This a feeling of solidity in the face of a storm.  The setting in process came after both carvings had been completed so that they could be fitted exactly.

Lighthouse, tree and walkway detail

One of the interesting things of which I was reminded when I revisited this carving were the “scrap” trees.  Each tree and clump of trees were carved from basswood scraps.  The driftwood, picked because its gray coloring resembled the rocks of the Atlantic Coast, called for something more along its length.  I was reminded of the pines one finds on in the American Northeast.  I have traveled there with family and have always enjoyed the pines.  So, we added a few pines and pines clusters.

Another view of the “forest”

pine tree clump

You will notice that the pines do not fit into the driftwood like the lighthouse and the cottage.  This adds a bit to the realism of the piece since trees come close to the ground but do not fit neatly as “factory made” trees might.  The added benefit for the viewer are  shadows created by the tree bottoms.

A view “from the forest walkway”

One more feature makes the entire piece.  After the trees were mounted to the driftwood something was needed to tie the entire work together.  Unpainted basswood strips proved to be just the thing.  I had a hand full of thin strips of basswood left over from another project.  These were trimmed down to make the cottage landing, the walk ways, and the stairs.  The light color of the wood provides a nice contrast to the darker driftwood and the green trees.

Map of Michigan lighthouses and the carving

Two last thoughts.  First, you will notice in the final picture how my sister-in-law has augmented the piece with a map of Michigan lighthouses.  The map even has pines and rocks around the lighthouses shown.  Against the white walls the picture and the carving compliment each other well.

Second, since this is a wood carving blog, I will raise a question I often hear or give to others – Is there anything on this piece you would change.  Yes, had I known how great the entire piece would look with the trees and walkways, I would have spent a little more time on detailing the lighthouse and the cottage.  Perhaps more lines for stone or bricks or more work on the windows.   Then again, the work has to be finished sometime.  Enjoy.

“An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends  and against all sound judgment starts quarrels.”  Proverbs 18:1


#61 Other interesting places: Work of Dylan Goodson – Greenman

I like looking at good carving. One carver with whom I have worked is Dylan Goodson. Dylan’s carvings have placed in many shows. I want to share with you a one more of his carvings. If you like his work you can find him on Face Book or find him at:

Dylan Goodson, Greenman 1

Dylan Goodson, Greenman 2

Did you notice the clean lines and the careful paint job.  The figures face fits well inside the leaf border.  Dylan has created a good space for the eyes – the nest well into the eye cavity.  His color choices for the face and the leaves are also eye appealing.  Nice job, Dylan.

“Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.”

Proverbs 16:32

#58 Penguins, penguins, penguins: Coffman style.

White pine penguin -sold

A few snow days and some quiet hours have given me time to carve a small waddle of penguins. Check me out, the term is correct, when they are on land anyway. When they are in the water you call them a raft of penguins. And if they are chicks standing around in a group you have a creche (kresh) of penguins.

White pine 2

white pine 3

Basswood mini

The penguins shown here have been carved in several different types of wood. The first few photos here are a carving out of white pine.  Several things to like about this one, I think.  You don’t have smell on your computer, but the wood has a great aroma.  Also, I really like the grain and the effect it has on the piece.  And one more feature I like about this carving, the blank was cut out of a piece of white pine splintered off a log.  The block of wood was about three inches square.  The carving still has some of the rough edges on the piece.  I like the effect.

Cottonwood bark 1

Cottonwood bark 2

Cottonwood bark 3

One of my favorite materials for carving is cottonwood.  I really like the effect of the rich, dark red coloring of this penguin.  It also looks good on the uncut bark, giving the wood a “rock-like” appearance.

Butternut 2

Butternut 1

Basswood mini 2

This little guy is my daughter’s favorite.  He is done in butternut.  His plumb little body leans into you.  He has a cute charm.

Basswood, leaning into wind

Basswood, leaning into the wind

Basswood, leaning into the wind 3

The piece, like the mini, is out of basswood.  Basswood is one of the favorite materials for American wood carvers.  This piece is an attempt at creating tension and movement.  The uphill climb is real.

A basswood pair.

A basswood pair 2

Another white pine carving

The final two pictures are of small piece done in cedar.  The smell is great and the colors add a nice touch to the carving.

Red cedar 1

Red cedar 2

Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. Proverbs 15:32

#36 Wood Carving: Accidents will happen.

What is the difference between an amateur and a professional?  Since I am a junior high school teacher, this question comes up often in various forms.  We talk a lot about driving cars.

Tiny pieces

The more self-assured guys and girls believe they are ready, at age 14, to drive.   We have a great time talking about what they know about cars, operations, rules and dangers.  There are many students who don’t even want to think of driving yet, but the braver ones are ready, now.

Tiny, minus some pieces

Our discussion will always come back to, “Why can’t we drive Mr. K?”  My response runs this way.  We know you know how to drive cars – “yeah, I’ve driven down my street lots of times (don’t tell the cops).”  And we know you know a lot about the parts of cars, gassing it up, caring for it (not that you always do without being ordered to do so).  And we know you could handle yourself on the road, all that four-wheeling experience comes into play.  But, and here is the amateur/professional tag line, what happens when things go wrong?

Tiny, up close and personal

My students often do not reflect on what they would do in the driver’s seat when things go wrong on the road.  They have not seen many deer on the road, held the wheel with a flat tire going, needed to avoid a pot hole, dealt with ice and snow on the road or faced the unexpected motorist in the wrong lane.  The point, the amateur (inexperienced) driver will not react correctly to the sudden problems which arise on the road.  The professional, in contrast, is much more adept at dealing with those sudden problems.

A Tiny side view

It is no different in the world of carving.  The amateur sees a carving ruined by a wrong cut or a broken piece.  The professional sees just one more obstacle to overcome to arrive at a finely finished piece.  Carving, and much of life, is about having a goal, identifying the problems and difficulties, and overcoming them with class and style.

So, here is “Tiny,” broken into several piece after being knocked down, having been placed in a poor location.  Now the question, what must be done to salvage him.  Steps to follow – clear the pieces of any debris, select the correct glue, refit the pieces, re-carve any place needing work and then painting the hat in such a way that no one will know the difference.

We will show Tiny refitted and completed later.

By wisdom the LORD laid the earth’s foundations, by understanding he set the heavens in place.  Proverbs 3:19

#35 Wood Carving: Egg heads – pilots, Santas, penguins, sailors

WWI pilot, 2″ basswood egg

One early carving medium which caught my attention and efforts was the basswood egg. Actually I went to the craft stores and bought a number of eggs which crafters use.

Nor’easter coming








The paint work crafters do on them can be gorgeous, however, I learned quickly that craft store eggs are not ideal for wood carvings. Most of the eggs I found years ago, haven’t looked lately, were, as I discovered through painfully slow experience, turned out of birch or maple. That means they were hard, hard, and hard. I had seen someone carve an egg.

Black Father Christmas, 2″ basswood egg



I had looked through some books on egg carving and thought it would be enjoyable. After the first few eggs and hours and hours into the work, I began to wonder if it was worth it. The time it took to cut the maple or birch eggs was far greater than I had anticipated.

Ye ‘onorable Judge ‘is-self.







Then I found basswood eggs. What a difference. I have gone through an “egg” stage. For a while I was carving 100 to 200 a year.

The eggs shown here are a small sampling of what one can do with basswood eggs. Enjoy.

Penguin elf

WWI pilot, side view

Fireman Fred

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5,6

Black Father Christmas, side view

#32 Wood carving: The Woodcraft Shop, good people to know.

Denny basic bench knife

Hobbyists are always looking for stuff.   They want tools to make the work go faster, with better quality results, and with less strain on hands, eyes, and pocket book.

Denny #3 3/4 in gouge I use.

As a person gains experience in a hobby they hunger for ideas.  They desire to improve their work, move on to another level of difficulty, find ideas for new  ways to complete work, new techniques which will give better results, new and interesting ways to present finished product.

Bluegill rough out

For all these things to happen the hobbyist has a great need for supplies and ideas.  So one thing the active hobbyist needs is a supplier they can trust.

One place I have gone is The Woodcraft Shop. I have been really pleased with their service and their products over the years.  Try them out.  Let me know what you think.  Happy carving.

The Woodcraft Shop
Wood carvers trusted partner for 29+ years

#29 Woodcarving: Scandinavian flat-plane

Scandinavian flat-plane carving.

“The Scandinavian flat-plane style of  woodcarving is a style of figure carving. The figures are carved in large flat planes, created primarily using a carving knife. Tool marks are left in the carving and very little (if any) rounding or sanding is done. Swedish-born American artist, Emil Janel was considered by many to be the one of the best of this genre.” (Wikipedia)

Scandinavian flat-plane ala Harley Refsal

One of my favorite Scandinavian style carvers is Harley Refsal. He has followed well in the tradition of Emil Janel.

Refsal Scandinavian flat-plane: The Farm Wife

Shadows and clean lines make a visually pleasing presentation for a flat-plane piece.

Farmer side view 1

Farm wife side view 2

A minimum of cuts used to create the shadow lines requires long, smooth strokes of a very sharp knife.

Farmer side view 2

Farm wife side view 1

The paint job also adds to the appeal of these flat plain carvings.  A light wash of color allows the wood grain to come through as can be seen in the side views above.

Out looking at his crops.

Looking too.

Facial details, “Crops look good, Ollie.”

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  Psalm 19:1