Archive for October 2014

“Let’s Talk Carving” By Susan Alexander

Susan bio shotWelcome to the first installment of Let’s Talk Carving on Woodcarver Online Magazine.  Susan Alexander’s presentations on WOM will be a mix of text and video articles.   The first installment is her first video!

To view the first installment of Let’s Talk Carving, click HERE.

If you have questions for Susan, please submit them using the form below.


Notes From The ‘Net 2.0

Notes From The Net

Questions and Answers About Carving Gathered From Popular Carving Groups

 Edited by Matt Kelley


Welcome carving friends to NFTN, version 2.0.   You may recall the original NFTN gathered useful information from various mail listservs, which were quite active back in the day.  Alas, all things change and activity on the old chat groups is greatly diminished and has been superseded by even more active Facebook carving groups, such as the Woodcarver List, Woodcarving 101 – The Joy of Woodcarving, and the International Fish Carvers & Painters Association.  In this and future issues we will glean the best questions, answers and comments and present them here.

Enjoy, and Carve On!


Setting up a table for a carving show

Joseph Poindexter asked the following on the Woodcarver List FB group:

“HELP!! In 9 days will be my FIRST woodcarving show. (Columbus chippers woodcarving club) I need tips on what works and what doesn’t on setting up a table for carvings. Pictures of your tables would be great.”

Larry “Big Dog” Yudis replied:

“Congrats Joe, on displaying at your first carving show! Don’t panic … shows are a lot of fun and you meet all sorts of great people. We’ve been doing shows for 30+ years and have seen it all as far as folks setting up their tables. Some are “Scratch your head and wonder: Why did he do that?” and some are “Holy Cow! That is so cool; why didn’t I think of that!’”

“The most basic thing you want to do is have a nice table cover that reaches to the floor on 3 sides of the table. Most banquet tables are 30” x 96”, so a piece of 60” fabric 11’ long would work just fine. Stick to a solid color (Royal Blue, Forest Green, Maroon, Dark Brown, etc.) in a non-wrinkling type fabric (double knit material really works well). Avoid using bed sheets, plastic table covering, a fabric that has too busy of a pattern, or anything else that takes away from folks enjoying your works of art. There are times when a fish or bird carver would use a camo-pattern fabric as their primary table cover and you can hardly see the fish or birds that are on the table. Or a caricature carver would use Aunt Millie’s multi-colored hand-made table cloth and his carvings would blend in so much you could hardly make them out.”

“The next thing that makes for a nice looking table display is to have various levels for your carvings. This can be done by putting different size containers (cardboard boxes, Tupperware containers, simple wooden frames) of some sort on the table and covering them with pieces of the same wrinkle-free fabric you are using for your primary table cover. A different solid cover for these raised platforms can be used just as long as the color is compatible with the primary color. Don’t go crazy with a whole bunch of these raised platforms … too many reduces the effect your trying to create. You can “dress up” your table display by adding some accessories to it. If you’re a fish carver, you might use a bit of fish netting or a couple of pieces of driftwood to enhance the look of your display. If you like carving western figures, you might find a small western-looking sign that you could put with your figures. Once again, don’t go crazy with a lot of different stuff … it takes away from the main focus of the display: your carvings.”

“One final thought … don’t load up your table with too many carvings. I’ve seen tables at shows that you couldn’t even tell what sort of table cover they had because they had the whole table covered from end to end with carvings! Folks looking at the carvings couldn’t appreciate them because they were so crammed together. You have a chance to show people your artwork. Take advantage of that situation and put your best effort out there. You’ve spent hours and hours to carve your creations so spend whatever time it takes to display them properly. Good luck at the show Joe. I hope this long-winded answer gave you some inspiration.”


Making and painting stems on carved leaves

Kurt Tuttle asked on the International Fish Carvers & Painters Association (IFCPA) FB group:

“Ok for all the painting experts out there, because I am surely not. I painted several leaves on a carving foliage green but what to make the veins standout, and looking for suggestions on how to do it.”

Dan Blair replied:

“Here’s a leaf carving tip that has never been posted anywhere before. It will work for you, I am sure. It is from a tool I created to drag the thin lateral lines on a carved fish. All you need is a drill motor with a 3/8″ drill bit, a hacksaw blade or moto-tool cutoff disc, (I prefer the thinner disc.) and a tea-spoon. About a third of the way inward from the tip of the spoon, drill the 3/8″ hole. Sand off the burrs from both sides of the hole. Then use the saw blade or cutoff disc to cut a slot from the tip of the spoon straight back to the center edge of the hole. Again, sand off the burrs on both sides of the slot. Now carve the show side of your leaf. I use a soft #2 lead pencil to draw in where the stems of the leaf should be. Then use the spoon with its window to drag along the pencil marks across the surface of the leaf to create the stems. (You may choose to make more spoons with thinner or wider slots for different sizes of stems.) Press the spoon firmly as you drag it. You may want to repeat the drag a few times to get the impression you prefer. AFTER you have carved the show side of the leaf, finish carving the back side down to the thinness you want. I usually make the leaf considerably thicker in the middle than out on the edges. We want to give the “impression” of thin but do not actually have to duplicate it. I paint my leaves with an airbrush, but you can also duplicate the changing colors found on leaves by using acrylic paints thinned almost to a wash and then over-brushing with more or less color, or tinting the original color with something else. Even when carving and painting something as common and simple as a leaf, it is STILL a good idea to find and USE good references. Good luck and good carvin’…”

Dan added:

“Kurt, when I paint the stems of a leaf, I usually just paint them a shade or two lighter or darker than the rest of the leaf. I RARELY paint the leaf itself all one color. They look better and more realistic if we fade the edges, add spots or blemishes, and maybe even wood-burn some insect damage, etc.”


That’s it for our initial edition of NFTN 2.0.    If you see a post on one of the FB groups or Mail Listservs that you think should be preserved in NFTN, please use the form below to submit your suggestion.

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Review: “Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments” by Betty Padden

Carving and Painting Christmas Ornaments –

Easy Techniques For 23 Patterns in Wood

By Betty Padden

Reviewed by Matt Kelley


Carving & Painting XmasCarving and Painting Christmas Ornaments, a recent release by Woodcarving Illustrated Books, is a collection of 23 patterns for carved christmas ornaments, including projects for beginner, intermediate and advanced carvers.  Padden starts with a page of Getting Started information, then includes five pages on her painting technique.   She paints with oil paints and so focuses on that type of paint, but much of the information may be useful to acrylic paint users as well.

After the painting section, Padden starts out with carving and painting directions for two beginner projects, followed by two intermediate and two advance projects.  Following the six projects with carving and painting instructions, there are 17 additional projects with photos, patterns and painting suggestions, in a mix of skill levels.  The projects are a nice mix of new ornament designs, certainly sufficient for a newbie, but even advanced carvers will find some fresh ideas in this volume.

Contents include:

  • Inside front and back covers – Paint Mixing Quick Reference
  • Introduction
  • Getting Started
  • Painting
  • Step-by-Step Projects
  • Beginner
  • Christmas Sock
  • Stargazing Sheep
  • Intermediate
  • Blooming Poinsettia
  • Heart Angel
  • Advanced
  • I’m On The Nice List Elf
  • Polar Bear Delivery
  • Additional Projects
  • Twinkling Star
  • Simple Heart
  • Clip-on Candle
  • Elf Icicle
  • Bless This House Ornament
  • Christmas Reindeer
  • Large Snowman Head
  • Snowman Snowflake
  • Large Snowman Icicle
  • Small Snowman Icicle
  • Cozy Penguin
  • Snowman Family
  • Top Hat Snowman
  • Bird and Top Hat
  • Clip-on Chickadee
  • Snowman Head and Star Family Ornament
  • Snowman with Sign

The photos and drawings in this volume are of good quality.  The directions seem sufficiently clear to allow even a newbie to successfully carve at least the beginner projects.  If you are looking for some fresh ornament projects and don’t have the time to design your own, you will find this book useful, particularly for the newbie carver.

The book has a suggested retail price of $16.99 and should be available from your favorite carving supply house, or Fox Chapel Publishing.   Check the Resource Files on this site for quick links.