101 Things To Carve
On A Rainy Day (Or Week)

by Graeme Vaughan <vaughan@webnet.com.au>


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I've always loved those quirky do-it-yourself books written somewhere in the 1950's, particularly the ones titled "A 101 Things ...".

My favourite title remains "A 101 Things to Make with a Toilet Roll" (Honest). Alas, this particular title proved so popular that it disappeared from the library shelf long before I ever became a member and it has never come my way since. Fortunately I resisted my initial impulse to save my toilet rolls (I presumed they meant that little cardboard roll that's left over, but I'm still wondering).

If I had kept them, of course, I would most certainly have needed the sequel (Another 101 Things ...) and its sequel (More 101 Things ) and.... ad infinitum. If anyone comes across this little gem, please enlighten me as to its contents. I've studied that little cardboard tube on and off over the years, but I'm afraid inspiration has always deserted me.While I'm on obscure books, some years back a newspaper published a list of the ten worst sellers of all time; alas I've lost the clipping in my travels. If anyone has the list, I'd love to retrieve it.

My two favourites were the Austrian Railway Timetable published the day before the Germans invaded (great timing) and "Across Tibet by Pogo Stick" by (I think) Betty Fairchild and Annabelle Cuthbert. Great image of two intrepid English Aunts bounding from peak to peak, leaping though high monastery windows past meditating lamas, scaring the yaks...But I digress.

Where was I? Oh yes, carving things. For sometime now, I've been collecting miscellaneous ideas about things to carve. And here they are. I hope you find them helpful, perhaps entertaining, and thought provoking. I aspire to, but doubt if I can reach the dizzy level of popularity of "101 Things To Do With A Toilet Roll On A Rainy Day" (Why rainy? Why not sunny? Oh perhaps that was the sequel. The mind boggles at the possibilities: "A 101 Things to Do With a Toilet Roll on a Mildly Cloudy Day"; "A 101 Things to Do With a Toilet Roll on a Windy Day"; "A 101 Things to Do With a Toilet Roll During a Cyclone") Oh, back to the woodcarving.

Here are some functional items to carve:

1. coin and key trays (for the miscellaneous junk in men's trousers)

2. carved bowls and trays

3. desk organisers (for pens, paper clips, staples, post-it notes: inspired by my desk, which looks like my workshop: See Volume 2 Issue 3 of the E-zine)

4. pen holder for desk with relief carved motif (quill pen,profile of famous writer)

5. bookends (inspired by my bookshelves...bookworms, open books, literary character (fictional or writer), person holding back the flood of books)

6. relief carved book covers for handbound books or photo albums

7. book marks (with appropriate shallow carved relief motif)

8. money boxes (fat prosperous banker character, old western bank, piggies, ...)

9. clock faces (Old Father Time )

10. frames for notice boards, mirrors, painting and photographs (apart from standard mouldings, art deco style, free formed and quirky; what about supporting figures?)

11. Boxes and boxes and boxes (free form carved, embellished with relief or chip carving, intaglio, pyrography) for jewellery, shoe shine stuff, fishing flies, fishing stuff, herbs and spices, tissue boxes ...

12. pot pourri containers (ditto)

13. business card holders (appropriate figure or object above card tray, perhaps holding card)

14. clipboard type notice board for bills, recepts, notices and the like (funny face with spring jaw to hold the paper)

15. the old cigar store Indian idea updated and applied to other businesses (eg chef outside restaurant holding a menu) Here's some ideas for the dining room and kitchen:

16. candleholders (free form, floral, character)

17. recipe book holder (hands, chef)

18. napkin holders (free form or with a little relief carving)

19. salt and pepper shakers (caricatures?)

20. wine bottle holder (caricature of tippler, personalised cartoon of customer as mine host)

21. sugar bowl (caricature)

22. kitchen knife holder (with relief motif, or with figure)

23. coffee mug tree (could be free-formed, 3-D Celtic spiralform, or caricature)

24. spoons and pot stirrers (obvious, but worth mentioning; use your imagination to make them unique)

25. fridge magnets customised for local businesses (do youreally want to go crazy??? better use the carving as a mouldand get them cast in plastic)

26. a spice dispenser (rotating plump chef figure with spice bottles on different levels

Some personal items:

27. medallions for key rings (personalised for customer, mythological figures; see medieval woodcut illustrations)

28. wooden buttons (ditto)

29. wall plaques and totem poles (combine symbolic and other elements of personal significance to the customer)

30. 3-D or relief carving based on the person's initials

31. jewellery (earrings, bracelets and neckwear; free form exotic woods or netsuke-like miniatures)

32. hand and fingers for storing bracelets and rings

33. walking stick and umbrella heads (animals, birds, cartoon faces, mythological figures, personalised for customer)

34. portraits of their pets

35. feeding bowls (free-form, shaped like a dog, a cat or a bone, with relief carved dog or cat on side)

36. cat sleeper (like a huge bowl) Now out into the garden:

37. planter boxes (with floral relief pattern, or organic shape: why do they have to be square?)

38. sign posts (not words, but image of what's there, perhaps humorous)

39. seed bed signs (ditto)

40.appropriate characters pointing the way (e.g. pumpkin head pointing to vegetable garden)

41. garden gnomes, goblins and vegetative spirits of all kinds

42. carved wooden pool/water feature (question: how towaterproof? polyester resin?)

43. garden seats and other furniture carved from single piece of wood in organic form (free form or floral or vegetable or even character) or relief carved

44. plant stands (ditto)

45. wall plaques for courtyard gardens (Green Man, mythological creatures, lion's head)

46. scarecrows (carved heads and hands)

47. gardener (life-size: leaning on rake)

48. gardener's helper ( life size or near life size figure designed to hold larger garden tools like spades and rakes)

49. smaller version of the same for smaller tools (perhaps a set)

50. gardener's basket (carved shallow bowl with handles, maybe add decorative relief carving)

51. bird houses (carved, not constructed; check to make sure they suit the species: maybe carve species on outside inrelief or 3-D)

52. similarly bird feeders

53. and bird baths

54. mail box (really let your imagination rip on this one: all sorts of figures, animals, birds, vegetative forms: how about a life-size wood carver? self-portrait?) Furniture and stuff:

55. carved from single piece of wood in organic form (seats, tables, shelves, CD stack, stereo stand, TV stand ...)

56. carved wooden doors

57. carved decorative screens (perhaps fret work)

58. lamp bases

59. flower vases (maybe with glass insert)

60. hat stands (quirky heads for storing hats)

61. coat rack ( multi-armed figure or set of figures)

62. walking stick or umbrella stands (cartoon figure)

63. coat hangers (carved from one piece of wood with some embellishment) Some serious fun stuff

64. chess sets (based on characters in literature)

65. other games (relief-carved snakes and ladders?)

66. sport trophies (donate to local club?)

67. some subjects for caricature carvings (kids, animals, sports, trades people, cafe characters, old folks, national folk characters, anglers: see Beryl Cook's paintings for general idea and approach: look around you)

68. fishing lures

69. stilts with realistic, caricatured or just plain weird feet And something for the rug rats and ankle biters:

70. alphabet carvings (letters formed from animals, persons, on blocks or wall panel or 3-D)

71. carved figures as the basis for kid's furniture

72. dolls (Mmmm maybe best for the little kid lurking inside the adult)

73. puppet heads

74. children's toys (check old catalogues and books for ideas) Just decorative stuff

75. flowers and a floral arrangement (now, there's a challenge!)

76. Celtic knot patterns (relief, try 3-D, and try to develop your own)

77. masks for the wall some carving themes to ponder

78. lessons I have learned from life

79. thanks for acts of kindness to me

80. the essence of me

81. memories of childhood

82. fate

83. if only

84. occasions (Christmas, New Year, Easter, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, national special days) Carver's block busters (for when you're stuck)

85. carve free form shapes on a small scale and then figure out how to put them together

86. twist a length of wire into a pleasing shape and then translate it into a wood carving

87.photograph natural forms, look for the essence of the form and then carve it.

88. study the pattern of growth or movement, do a stack of quick sketches to get the feel of it, then carve the movement

89. explore the different sorts of marks you can make with your tools: where does this suggest your work may go?

90. start carving without any idea of what you are going to make; follow your instinct and the wood

91. keep a collection of images that appeal to you; go through the collection and select one as the basis of a carving

92. similarly, collect words and phrases that somehow appeal to you; select one as the basis of a carving

93. combine these two ideas together: select an image and words at random: how can you do a carving based on the image for which the words would be a fitting title?

94. grab a word at random from the dictionary or any book and use that as the basis of developing a carving

95. carve a small thing really big or carve a big thing really small

96. do a portrait of someone you know really well, WITHOUT including their face

97. copy as exactly as possible something really simple and mundane

98. do a carving of the type and style that you like least

99. however you usually carve, do the extreme opposite (big, small) (exact replica, abstract) (relief, 3-D)

100. do a series of quick small carvings in a soft media like soap or wax

101. take a break and say hello to your loved ones and theworld

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