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.