The cat below is the piece that I carved for her. Actually, it was one of the first pieces that I ever carved. The very first piece that I ever carved was a letter 'A' which I carved with a straight chisel. It took me three weeks to carve that letter! I still have the block, I keep it at the bottom of my tool box where I keep all the blocks for sharpening my knives and chisels. I kept it as a measure of my first accomplishment in wood carving. We always need to remind ourselves of where we began, especially when we get discouraged or frustrated.
When I attempted carving the cat it was a bit of a leap going from carving a letter in more or less a two dimensional design to carving a figure in three dimensions or as wood carvers are fond of saying, carving in the round. it does not seem like a huge difference but in reality it is a totally different way of visualizing the piece that you would like to carve. I found that I had to constantly see the finished piece in my mind as I was working on it. When I did that it was easy to decide how I would go about removing wood to arrive at the finished piece, the cat that I made for my daughter. It was not a perfect piece but I was happy with the result and my daughter was also happy with it.
The little mouse that you see here was a piece that I saw a member of the carving club make during on a hour or so. I was so taken with the little guy that I decided to make one for my daughter to go with her cat. I followed a pattern that I got from one of the members of the carving club for the first mouse but I made all the others from memory. Consequently, each mouse is slightly different than the last one. I like that because each one is distinctly different from the others. I also gave a mouse to a friend of mine in China during the year of the mouse. He thought is was a cute little gift.
This little guy is something totally different. He was part of the group of carvings that I did for Christmas several years ago. My wife and I wanted to give something special to our children at Christmas. We decided that we would create a group of whimsical Father Christmas type figures. I carved four figures. We gave one figure to each one of our children and we kept one for ourselves. I carved each figure from piece of recycled wood from our house. We have been renovating our home for the passed decade, one room at a time. I have kept some of the wood because the wood is well over fifty years old. From a wood carvers point of view, the older the wood the more seasoned it is and usually, the easier it is to carve. The wood that I used for these pieces was cedar that measured approximately two inches by two inches and measured eighteen inches long. The interesting thing about cedar is that when you cut into it the resin in the wood is released and you can smell the cedar fragrance. As I carved these pieces, the fragrance reminded me of Christmas. It was a pleasant experience. The down side was that the cedar had a tendency to splinter which made me more careful in how I cut into the wood. When I finished carving the pieces, I handed them over to my wife who used her imagination and ingenuity to come up with the finished product. These pieces were our first collaboration in carving and painting.
This last piece was part of another series of Christmas tree ornaments that I did. In fact, I still make a few of these every years because they seem to be popular with my children and they take as many as I can carve. Like other pieces I carve, I saw the original idea in a wood carving magazine, Wood Carving Illustrated, I believe. After the first piece that I carved I developed the idea into an original set of Santa Claus heads that my family hang on their Christmas trees every year.
That is all of my pieces that my daughter has in her house. I will have to think about what I might do for next Christmas. Right now, I am thinking that I would like to make Nutcrackers for next Christmas. I still need to research the idea and develop a design for three or four Nutcrackers that I would like to make for next Christmas.
This is the first day of 2011 and I hope that everyone will have a healthy and prosperous year!