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  Halloween Woodcarving

By Cyndi Josilyn

Reviewed by Mike Bloomquist


If you caught my review of Cyndi Joslyn's book Easy Carving you might recall that I wasn't overly thrilled with her first two books, Carving Santas from Around the World and North Woods Nativity.  I have to tell you though, with Easy Carving and this latest one, Halloween Woodcarving she's won me over as a big fan.  Yeah, I know, that and a couple bucks will buy her a cheap cappuccino, but here's my opinion anyway...

There is a lot of material here reprised from Easy Carving, but in an abbreviated version.  That might seem like cheating at first, but it's done in such a way that this book stands by itself as a very good beginner's book.  Besides, the repeated material is the "best of" stuff and there's enough new material (with a Halloween theme) that you shouldn't feel cheated at all if you already own the other volume.

This is a very colorful book with lots of  autumn colors (Duh, Mike).  The photography is excellent.  There doesn't seem to be any gaps in the steps and the viewing angles are good with very three dimensional lighting.  One of the "best of" sections here that we failed to point out in the Easy Woodcarving review is a technique section on doweling, both wire doweling and wood doweling.  Great stuff for beginners to know about, see done and try for themselves.  That carved-from-one-piece-of-wood mentality gets in the way sometimes.  It often results in pieces that are too fragile, and many times dangerous to carve. Visually it looks like there's plenty of wood seperating the blade from your fingers and then the parts breaks away when you're counting on it for protection.  Doweling is good.

What's inside:


Just a couple of nit-picks and I think I'm reprising this first one from my review of the previous book (which seems fitting).  In the recommended first set of tools the author includes a v-tool that, to me, seems too small.  However, since she uses the tool only for incised lines and never for stop cuts or outlining cuts, it's only reflecting her carving style and is justifiable.  Still, I would recommend a larger one that would be more versatile and do both.  The second, the Halloween Cutouts project is actually carving jewelry pieces... very small.  When the carving gets to that scale I like to cut them out on the end of a stick, carve it and cut them away at the last minute.  This gives you a good handle to use which keeps the bleeding parts away from the action a bit and eases up on the hand fatique from holding small parts.  Not sure where I got that trick from (Jack Price maybe), but it would work really well for the candy corn. 

Another observation with these last two books... You're starting to see more of a Cyndi Joslyn "style" here with these projects than there was previously.  I'm not recommending you ignore those other books.  They're absolutely worth a look, especially if you do a lot of carving for Christmas, but if you're a beginner carver, a teacher of woodcarving, and/or a big fan of Halloween then this book is a have-to-have and the one you want first.  In fact, I think I need another copy for Melissa.  Wonder if I can con her into carving me that Cat in the Pumpkins project?

Hey fellow woodcarvers, 'till next time, keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and don't be scared to carve things that go bump in the night.

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike Bloomquist->


Mike Bloomquist is a carver and carving teacher, and a regular contributor to WOM.

You may visit Mike's web site, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving HERE or email him at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet.