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Flat Plane Carving The Nativity
By Lynn Diel

Reviewed by Matt Kelley


We've all been there - your spouse/significant other says, "Why don't you carve a chess set/Noah's Ark/Nativity for your mother/sister/daughter/son/grandchildren, etc." So off you go to your shop, all excited about creating this Work of Art for your mother/sister/etc.

So there you are, three or four figures later, burned out, bored, tired of the little pawns or animals or shepherds. Finally the Work of Art gets pushed aside by other projects and sits gathering dust. If you do eventually get back to finish the first Work of Art, you sure are not interested in a repeat performance!

To our rescue now comes Lynn Diel, with his book Flat Plane Carving The Nativity. Lynn clearly recognizes our little problem with such projects, and specifically wrote this book with an antidote in mind. That antidote is flat plane carving.

Popularized in the past by the carvings of Emil Janel and in the present era by the work of Harley Refsal and Ron Wells, flat plane carving is characterized by broad flat planes and minimal detail. Combine that with Lynn's simple yet interesting designs and unpainted finish, and you have a delightful Nativity that you can carve quickly and without boredom. All in all, a great solution to the "Why don't you carve . . ." question.


Here's a brief look at the contents of this 64 page, soft cover book:

Chapter 1 Mary
Chapter 2 Joseph
Chapter 3 Crib
Chapter 4 Shepherd
Chapter 5 Angel
Chapter 6 King Melchior
Chapter 7 King Gaspar
Chapter 8 King Baltazar
Chapter 9 Camel
Chapter 10 Ox
Chapter 11 Donkey
Chapter 12 Lamb
Chapter 13 Finishing

Back of the book - Patterns for Angel Wings, Camels, Stable Animals, and Templates A & B


If you have never attempted flat plane carving before, not to worry; the book contains a great many photographs and well-written instructions. You should have no trouble in following the instructions and producing your own flat plane Nativity.

The photos, in fact, present an interesting new wrinkle. Lynn submitted all of the photographs and illustrations as electronic images. This shortened the time from submission to publication, and more importantly, permitted him to add text and graphics directly to the photos. This adds greatly to the utility of the photographs and provides a generally more enjoyable experience.


Matt's Recommendation: If you are an experienced carver looking for a change of pace, or a newbie eager for an interesting but "do-able" project, then I highly recommend this book. It will be a welcome addition to your library.

Flat Plane Carving The Nativity is one of several new books from Schiffer Publishing, with a suggested retail price of $12.95 USD. To read about other new books from Schiffer and FoxChapel, be sure to visit "What's New" in this issue of WOM.