Saturday, December 18, 2010

Carving on Cottonwood

The man of the house has been encouraging me for several years to take up carving.  He may be wanting me to try this new hobby because a while back, he gave me a Dremel tool set that has not been getting much use.  Brother John bequeathed me wood carving tools and a heavy hand turned solid wooden mallet from a white elephant exchange a few years ago, so why wait further to begin a new hobby, right?

Having all the appropriate paraphernalia (including several pieces of tree wood, the Dremel set and wood carving tools, sandpaper and paints), inspiration was all that was needed.

My first thought was to try and carve a forest gnome from this "raw branch" from the wood pile we use as fuel for our fire pit:

But wait!  My analytic side said that a web search on wood carving was also needed.  A refresher course on the Dremel tool for wood carving was found here; carving on wood information was found here; more basics on how to carve were found here.  And finally, rules for carving faces from Gene Graham were found and can be accessed below the page break.

This rescued branch had an outgrowth of small twigs growing from it. After a bit of finessing with the Dremel sander and various small drills, it began to resemble an open mouth. Those twigs were filed down and refined and lo and behold, they began looking like big old teeth!

This is what the "Christmas deer" or gnome, or dog is looking like, but he still needs lots of work on his ears, forehead and temple.

It is a warm Saturday, so more carving refinement might be on today's agenda.  And it will need paint!

To read more about carving heads from Gene Graham:
1) The height of the face is about 1 1/2 times the width.
2) The side of the head fits roughly into a square.
3) The neck cuts straight back, then angles back & down, then straight down.

4) The head sits forward on the shoulders.


1) The forehead-to-nose-to chin angle is approximately 120 degrees.

2) The left cheek-to-nose-to-right cheek angle is approximately 90 degrees.

3) The face is divided into three equal parts: the top of the head to the brow, the brow to the bottom of the nose, and the bottom of the nose to the bottom of the chin.

4) Both sides of the face are NOT symmetrical.

5) The forehead is the only place on the face that is allowed to be flat.

6) Narrow the temple area.

7) The face is "five eyes' wide.
8) The eye area is the widest part of the face.
9) Cut the cheek areas straight back.
10) Carve the cheek muscles very defined.
11) From the nose to the cheek to the side of the head should have a smooth, rounded transition.
1) "Half in - half out". Half of the nose should extend out from the face. The other half should extend into the face.
2) The outside edges of the nostrils line up with the inside corners of the eyes.
3) Taper the nostrils back NOT out.
4) The nose widens slightly then tapers back in about half way between the bridge and the tip.
5) The nose has a ball on the end of it.
6) Do not carve away the muscle structure that connects the nose to the cheeks.
7) DO NOT hollow the inside of the nostrils until the face is completely finished.
1) The eyes are in the middle of the head.
2) The eyes are one eye width apart.
3) Round the eyes and face back around the head.
4) Recess the bottom of the eyes farther back than the top.
5) Under normal circumstances, the eyes should be small slits.
6) The pupil of the eye makes up 80% of the eyeball.


1) The mouth line is 1/3 of the distance from the base of the nose to the base of the chin.
2) Dentures are not flat! Round the mouth around.
3) The corners of the mouth line up with the middle of the eyes.
4) The corners of the mouth should extend behind the nose.
5) The bottom lip should set back under the top lip.

6) The corners of the bottom lip should tuck under the top lip.
7) Add dimple lines at the corners of the top lip.
8) The mouth has little "pockets" at each corner.

1) Keep the ball of the chin small.
2) The chin sets back behind the lips.

3) The chin has two muscles on the end of it

1) Hair has several levels. Carve them!
2) Hair must have a starting point and an ending point. It does not start and/or end in the middle unless it comes out from or goes in under something.
1) The veins in the neck disappear behind the ears.
2) The jaw turns into the ear.


  1. I am impressed! You have in my opinion, lots of natural talent. I think you will do well in your carving endeavors.

  2. Fantastic, you are a very creative person.


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