Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bob's Weather Wizard

I'm starting with a story, The Lore of the Cottonwood Tree. There is a quiet small valley with a small river winding though. The 100 plus year old Cottonwood tree had it's top broken off and all the branches were gone. The bark was falling on the grass covered ground. The tree was bleached out by the sun. The Cottonwood tree spoke, "I see all the young tree's around me from my seed, but I feel something is missing." A warm breeze came from the south and whispered to the tree, "from your bark it you will be remembered with joy and comfort. Be at peace."  For me it is a joy to find and carve Cottonwood bark. As we grow older we may have some of the same thoughts.
My friend Bob has a weather station, so I wanted to carve him a weather wizard. I don't know if it looks like a wizard, but the face looks like a Norseman to me. I'm attaching a card to it so he has another source for his forecast. It's 8 inches long and 1 1/2 inch diameter. The eye pupils were cut in with a gouge and then burnt in to darken them. Bob said he had the wizard to point to when somebody complained about the weather. He liked it very much.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa is coming

This is my view of Cottonwood City, named after the famed cottonwood tree. The doors are a little ajar, waiting for that most important visitor this time of the year. Santa is lurking around the corner looking to see who has been naughty or nice. This has been a busy time of the year carving ornaments. These bark houses can be hung or set on the self. They are about 4 inches tall and all have a tree and a post. I carved 20 of these and they are all different with a simple design.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Baseball Pitcher

I was given a Dave Stetson roughout last spring to carve for a Christmas gift. Of course apple pie and baseball are Americans favorites. I like both especially the little leagues, but it is second to apple pie. 


Friday, December 2, 2011


I was looking at a blog from Finland and seen this character with the ribbon look on the bottom. This one is carved with cottonwood bark. It is a good choice because of the layers it shows on the rounded surfaces. This is 6 inches tall by 1 1/4 inches round. I like to see more blog's from different countries around the world to see what they are carving. Today I did a craft show in my home town. It's a small town where you know a lot of people and of coarse you do barter some. It was fun to visit those who come around my booth.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Comfort Bird

When I saw the Comfort bird in Woodcarving Illustrated I had to carve one. I liked the idea because of the touching aspect. I carved mine out of butternut and cottonwood bark. I used a knife to carve it then a palm sander to smooth out the knife marks. On the bark I cut the tail at a bit of an angle so it would show the layers of the bark. Both these woods are easy to carve and it doesn't take long to finish the bird. The finish is a couple coats of clear satin and then some wax. They do have a good feel to them. The pattern in the magazine is a little off, so draw a line though the middle and copy the one side for the other side.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Carving a Pine Cone

A friend asked me how to carve a pine cone, so I will lay out the steps I take. This one is made as a ornament and it can be carved any size with a change in the layout dimensions. Other dimensions will give different results and that is OK. Cones come in all shapes and lengths.
I use a 1 1/2 inch block about 7 inches long. This will give two cones 3 inches long and it will be easier to hold on to when carving. Bullet shape the cone on each end. I free hand the vertical lines a little more than 1/2 inch apart to the point. This will even out the lines around the cone. I freehand the lines because it is quicker and I have trouble following the lines when I carve anyway. The start of the horizontal line is 3/4 inch from the top of a 3 inch cone.I make dots at the vertical line at 5/16 for the first three lines and 1/4 inch for the rest of the lines. Draw in those lines. Mark a X in each rectangle. The very tip will be v-tooled out, so don't worry about that. Spray with Deft to protect the lines you worked so hard to draw. Chip cut each diamond shape. Cut straight down the inverted V and then cut at an angle up to free the chip. Go around each row before starting the next row.. Depending how good you carve this might be good but for me it is a roughing stage. I like to carve fast.
Here I went back and cleaned up my cuts and deepened the cut to open up the cone. On the very end I used a v-tool and cut from the v to the end of the cone. Now to do the other one.
Now cut these two cones apart and shape the ends. These will be ornaments so there is enough wood to add ornament hooks to the top. You may notice that one cone I carved was more open than the other.
I painted the pine cones with acrylic's. I painted wet on wet with three different browns and green. Turn the carving as you paint because it is easy to miss a spot in one of the corners. The knob on the top I used gold. It went well with the browns. When dry I coated it with Deft.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Wink

This carving is from the site Don Mertz says, "Would be carvers would be carvers, if they would carve wood." It is a great site to learn carving using a knife. I have carved several of these faces out of 1/2 inch basswood. The more you carve these relief faces you learn there is a lot of wood to get the depth of the face. They are 2 1/2 inch by 2 inch. The eye pupil is burnt in. They both have a natural finish, the left one is just a darker wood. I had painted one but I like the natural finish better.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walking Stick

Using a walking stick has several advantages. It helps with your balance over rough areas, it takes some of the stress off your legs, and it can be used as a weapon to fight off the bears. This walking stick was carved from a Diamond Willow. It is said that the willow tree grows diamond shaped cankers in response to a fungus. The cankers seem to result from the tree growing away from the site of attack. I don't know how true this is because I'm carving one stick with cankers covering all three sides. I guess it doesn't matter how it gets there, it does make a nice walking stick or cane. It is a softer wood to carve. The stick is 57 inches long and the hand grip is just over my elbow level. I'm ready for my walk in bear country.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Awareness Ribbon

October is breast cancer awareness month, so I have been working on an awareness ribbon with angel wings. I started with a 3 1/4 inch long by 3/4 inch thick piece of basswood. On the first one the wings were flat. I wanted more of a dish in the wings. I gave the pattern to a friend and he came back with a different wing pattern and a cutout that was 3/8 inch thick. I carved it two different ways with the head covering on the back. The 3/8 inch thick angels have a magnet in the back of the head. I like the down swept wing a little better. The up swept wing looks more futuristic to me. Because of the lighting the ribbons are off color. The ribbons are actually pink.   


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Patriotic Fish

I went to Spokane's Artistry in Wood with good intentions of taking a few pictures of some of the great carvings. My cameras battery was dead. I was so busy I didn't get something entered in the show. Our club had a booth to entice some new members. Several of our members had carved this fish design and was displayed. I started out painting my fish with an airbrush and it didn't blend in the colors like I wanted. I finish it with brushes with a patriotic theme. The paint become heavier than I wanted. I'm not to thrilled with it and I will carve another one. When I manned the booth, a lady asked where a person could find cottonwood bark. I told her along the river. She said that wouldn't work because her husband couldn't swim. My chuckle of the day.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Heart Flower

A friend gave me this flower he started carving and asked me to finish it. He designed it with four hearts and added some leaves. Girard likes to draw, and he designs some very good carvings. It is carved out of butternut and is 3 1/2 inch square by 3/8 inch thick. Butternut is easy to carve but it took a lot of sanding to bring out the richness of the wood. It has some interesting grain patterns.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Merit Badge Beads

Angie contacted me about carving pine cone beads for their Boy Scout troop. She couldn't locate any online or in local bead stores. This sparked my interest because I didn't have any idea what they would be. She said they would be like Merit Wood Badge beads, 1 inch long by 1/2 inch in diameter and brown. A set will be attached to a cord and worn around the neck. The cord in the picture isn't the one they will be using. There is a rich history with Wood Badge beads and the Boy Scouts for their leadership. They will be presented to the scouts in late October. I started out with a 1/2 inch square by about 3 inches long. A little over 1 inch in length was rounded to a pine cone shape. I drew around the cone at 3/16 inch spaces from 1/4 inch from the top. I used the corners of the square and the middle of the flat parts to free hand draw the vertical lines. Then X the squares. I used a chip knife to cut straight down on the V lines and then angle cut out the chip. I carve around each line before going down to the next one. On the very bottom I used a v tool to carve to the point. I clamped the square part in a vise to drill a 3 mm hole for the cord. Then sawed it off to 1 inch and rounded the top and painted it. This is for our future leaders.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Montana Happy Turtle

I received an e-mail from a lady who participated in my class of the happy turtle at the West Glacier Rendezvous. She had finished the turtle and sent some kind words and a picture. I like the paint job and the scene that explains why the turtle is happy. It is encouraging  to see the work of others.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Cross Ornament

The inside of this cross was opened up by drilling a series of holes on the center line of the side.  I angled the cross to drill out the center. With a knife and gouge I opened the drilled area. I carved though at a angle to the center and in the opposite direction on other side. I did a simple chip carving on both sides and scalloped all the ends. The finish cross is Alizarin Crimson oil color and linseed oil.  It's 4 inches long and out of 3/4 inch basswood.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I carved this roadrunner at the West Glacier Rendezvous. I remember the Roadrunner and Wile Coyote cartoon, beep, beep. It may not look like the cartoon caricature or the real roadrunner, but it was fun to carve. I don't know if his eyes are worried or tired. The ribs of the Saguaro Cactus were carved with a v tool in short cuts. The Saguaro Cactus grows maybe one inch a year, but to a great height of 15 to 50 feet. The largest plants are estimated to be 200 years old. They flower in May and June. If fertilization has occurred fruit will begin to form. The 3 inch green fruit ripens just before the fall rainy season, splitting open to reveal the bright red, pulpy flesh. The natives use the fruit for jam and nectar.


Friday, August 26, 2011


A few very nice days at West Glacier KOA and a carving Rendezvous with friends. Lots of classes and fellowship. One of the classes was a Gnome. I took this class because of Leroy. I wanted to learn more on how to teach carving. He is a great teacher and I spent more time listening to him talking to the beginners than carving. This is a very good beginning project and fun to carve. I did finish carving and painted the Gnome. I did teach a class on the happy turtle, a picture of it on the May post. I did use some of the points from Leroy on teaching. I was taken back when a lady told me she was blind. She was also in a wheelchair. She wanted to be able to carve something in bed when she went into cancer treatment next week. She could see a bit on the lines and could feel the goby. It was a special time for both of us and it makes me think of what little problems I have with my eyes and health. It is a time I will remember.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pencil Santa

The school supplies are out and I found these large size pencils. This is the time to buy them while they are in stock. They said they were premium wood, so they must be for carving. They are made from cedar. I intended to give these to preschoolers around Christmas and I was told by wife and daughter I didn't buy enough pencils, whatever that means. They are fun to carve and it doesn't take a lot of time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Santa Ornament

This is a Gargac style Santa ornament that is 4 1/2 inches long and cut diagonally from a 2 inch block, The back is dished out so it can be cut through in three spots. The beard and hair was painted with a watered down burnt sienna and then painted with a few coats of white, witch also was watered down. The hat is more burgundy then red with a gold trim. I did a few of these last year with white trim on the hat. This one is going to a raffle in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Native American Indian

This Native American Indian is carved in cottonwood bark that I found along a creek in Idaho. It is 14 inches tall by 4 inches wide and 2 1/2 inches thick. I added a couple of strings of beads and ear rings. The different tribes used a wide variety of material, beads, bone, teeth, shells, leather, fur, and feathers.  My wife decided it looked good on a table in the living room. If you are on Facebook a good site to check out is "Native American Indian - Old Photos". There are pictures from a lot of different tribes and it may take you all day to go though them. It is an excellent site for reference. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cowgirl Saturday Night

This is a Harold Enlow rough-out that I carved for a lady, who had bought this blank several years ago. I carved this same rough-out last year and the wood was also dry and hard to carve. I did more detail in this one and the face came out better.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Reindeer ornament

This past week I went out to look for some cottonwood bark along a creek where there is a lot of cottonwood. It is a narrow road with step banks at times to get there. At the creek where it crosses the road was a dead tree with bark on it. I was able to harvest some bark from it. Then I crossed the creek and drove on a grass covered road that ended at the railroad tracks. The tracks follow along the creek, so I walked along the tracks where I saw a cottonwood that had no bark except at the top there was some bark. I had to go though some brush and then some high grass to reach the tree. The bark had come off the tree and was on top of the grass, so I was able to get some very good bark to carve. At home I had to see how good the bark was so I carved a folk-art reindeer and a small house. This is one of the cases that something dead comes to life. The bark is gray and hard on the outside layer, once carved through that layer it is easier to carve and it has the beautiful shades of brown. On the reindeer you can see the layers of the bark. It is 5 inches tall and 1 inch thick with a red stick pin for a nose. The house is 5 1/2 inches tall by 4 inches wide and 2 3/4 inches thick. I like the way the tree came out in this carving.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Whimsical Santa Tree

I wanted to carve this Santa Tree and out camping was a good time to do this and I was able to finish two bark houses too. The Santa is 5 inches tall and 2 inches square. Instead of using a pattern approach to the tree I did random cuts for the branches, although I think using a pattern of some sort would have been easier and cleaner cuts. It would make a nice ornament.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Angry Fish

This is the other class I took at the Spokane Rendezvous. The fish is 5  inches long and 3/4 inches thick. I added some rib lines to break up that space. The fish is Super Glued to a 4 inch diameter circle. I had good response in having the fish stick out beyond the circle.  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Whimsical House

I carved this Whimsical house in a class at the Spokane Rendezvous. The house is cottonwood bark and is 7 inches tall and 2 inches thick. It is more brown then the picture shows. The corner piece under the tree broke off when carving, so I used Super glued it back on. I could have left it off, but I thought it added to the piece. It was left plain without boards or shingles and I like the grain showing through.