Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


A carving of Gandalf has been carved several times, sometimes with a lantern in his hand, sometimes with a crystal ball in his hand an always with his iconic staff of a crooked and twisted shape.  This interpretation of Gandalf the Wizard has him holding the lantern as a symbol of bringing the light of wonder.  He is wearing a dunce hat with a floppy brim and the tradition long robe. Such a simple attire allows the emphasis to be upon his face, his staff and the lantern to spark the imagination to conjure wizardly feats of wonder.

Gandalf is Whittle-Carved in a six-inch-tall by inch and half square block of basswood.  The first procedure is to carve a notch cut one quarter inch up from bottom of block on all four sides to establish the base for the carving.  The next stage is to draw a center line across the top of the block to indicated the direction the head is looking and to make notch cuts on the front corner to establish the top for the staff as in the first photo below. The next step is to carve the hat using the center line as a guide to place to back point of the dunce crown of hat at the back edge of the block. Begin by drawing a wavy horizontal line for the brim of the hat in such a way that the staff is pressing the brim down where it leans against the brim.  Lay the cutting edge of the knife on the brim line to begin making a slicing cut forard along the line and at the same tip twist hand guiding the knife to roll the blade up to slice off the side of the crown of the hat in a “slice and roll” action. Continue the “slide and roll” action to shape the top of brim and crown of the hat until it looks about the appropriate size. Follow with shaping the bottom of the brim with a slicing stop cut around the brim and then a gentle and slow slicing cut up to the stop cut to begin to shape the head going up into the hat.  Continue to repeat the stop cut and slice cut up to the stop cut until the basic form of the head with draping hair and beard are carved to approximate shape. The result of these steps is viewed in the second and third photo below.

Once the basic form of the hat and head have been established, the body portion of the figure is divided proportionately using the Rule of Three for Body Proportions: Shoulder to Waist; Waist to Mid Knees; Mid Knees to Bottom of Feet. Horizontal lines are drawn at these three junctions (as seen in the red lines in the four photos below on the figure on the right).

The four photos below show two figures for comparison between the one carved to basic form on left and the right figure shows the drawn guidelines as the “before” illustration. Viewing these two illustration in all four views is to see first on the left the carved form and on the right the line drawings of guidelines of what needs to be carved away as a backward look of what it looked like before it was carved.



The knife in these photos was used to carve the basic form of Gandalf and other knives were used during the finer detail work. The first photo below is being used to texture hair.  The cutting edge of the blade is extended around the rounded tip end of the blade to form its own unique cutting edge on the “round-a-bout” tip.  The tip end of the blade is sliced forward is a “slice and roll” action creating a gouge like shaving of fine texture resembling hair strands. The second photo below shows a knife blade with the cutting edge extending around the front end of the blade to form a secondary cutting edge similar to a skew that is used to carve the glass lens recessed in frame of the lantern.


The next series of photos show the “carved to form” Gandalf in various views.










Follow the light of the lantern in the Gandalf carving to see with fresh eye the possibility of creativity at work in the carving process.





This entry was posted on Friday, October 29th, 2021 at 2:56 pm and is filed under Carving Projects. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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