Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


The Heart Angel is a stylized interpretation of a “messenger” of love and hope. This carving began as a commission to be a sister’s gift to a sister who is facing another chapter in surviving cancer. A stylized interpretation was chosen so that the overall silhouette would open up imagination to personalize the angel. The silhouette of the stylized wings formed the shape of a heart as well as the shape of the prayerful hands and drapery of the sleeves form an imaginary heart.

The Heart Angel was carved out of a butternut block that measured ten inches tall, six inches wide and an inch and half thick. The cartoon line drawing was worked out on card stock paper and cut out along the outer lines to form a pattern to draw on the block of wood as depicted in the two photos below.

ANGEL DRAWING                         ANGEL DRAWING

The WOOD BEE CARVER prefers to open up the block to be carved by using a hand guided knife to begin shaping the outward form of the angel. The reason for this approach is to begin the creative process of forming a silhouette of the carving in a slow and contemplative manner to come in tune with the carving. It is also a process of “priming the pump” of the rhythm of the slicing action removing chips while carving towards the imagined shape. Of course it would be “faster” to cut the outline using a band saw but the “faster” would cheat the carver out of the “preparation of the heart to create.”

During this initial shaping process of whittling to shape of the hand guiding the carving knife, the creative sub conscious of the carving begins to envision the next steps in the carving process. Imagination mentally sees the carving taking shape.

Once the outer shape of the angel’s wings, head and the base are established, the next shaping process is to begin shaping the outer lines of the head with flowing hair, the shoulders and arms with the flared sleeves followed by the outer lines of the side of the robe down the side of the body. Once again the carving knife is used to make a ditch or trough using notch cuts followed by slicing cuts of the knife on the wing side of the ditch outlining the body and to begin to reduce the wings so that they will appear to fold behind the body.

The first photo below shows the angel carved to this point using the Bumble BEE # 13 Signature Series HELVIE knife. The second photo shows the next stage in which shallow gouges were used to help shape the softer contours. Notice the left side or the right wing has the tracts of the gouge cuts exposed while the other wing has had the gouge tracts shaved smooth.

HEART ANGEL                     HEART ANGEL

The next three photos show the Bumble BEE knife in various positions to indicate the cuts having been made by this versatile blade shape. The first photo shows the knife being used to undercut between the side of the robe and the wing as it tapers to the back. The second photo shows the knife blade as it is used to create the soft wrinkles and folds in the robe. The knife is stood up on its edge beginning at the tip end and as it is sliced forward the blade is also rolled. As this slice and roll cut follows the curvature of the cutting edge a dished out gouge like cut is made that creates the soft wrinkles. The same slicing action is used to create small waves in the flow of the hair.   The third photo shows how this blade shape will fit into tight areas to make precise slicing cuts.


CARVING TOOLSWhile the carving knife can do much of the wood removal and shaping, on this project it was necessary to use a few additional gouges for cuts the knife could not accomplish. The photo on the left shows the tools used to carve the Heart Angel. Above the Bumble BEE knife is a number 9 vainer made by the late Charles Berold, followed by a number 3 Henry Taylor gouge, followed by a number 3 gouge made by David Lyons with a long handle and on the right of the angel is a number 4 gouge made by Everett Cutsinger.

The WOOD BEE CARVER prefers to allow the texture of the slicing cuts of both the knife and gouge to be the final surface of the carving rather than sanding the surface. The burnishing effect of the cutting tool is preferred rather than the softening effect of sanding. A typical stylized carving is highly sanded but in the case of this angel carving the emphasis is placed upon a “stylized interpretation” by allowing the overall shape to be stylized with a silhouetted image. Thus the face the angel has no detail other than the basic silhouetted form of the eyebrow bone structure, the nose and mouth mound. The same can be said about the hands having only the basic form of hands without any great detail. The overall interpretative vision is to see the “heart” shape of the wings and prayerful hands without getting lost in the details.


A very small amount of walnut Danish Oil was mixed with boiled linseed oil to stain the butternut wood and once the oil finish was dry a coat of Deft brushing lacquer was applied. Using this oil finish gives a soft glow to the beauty of butternut wood.

The “Heart Angle” as a stylized interpretation is another example that every carving is always an interpretation of the artist-carver. Every carving a carver creates is an interpretation of what is in the heart of the carver which makes each carving unique in and of itself. When “heart” is put into the carving process the result is a carving that has personality with a story to tell. This “Heart Angel” has a story to tell ~ can you see the story?



This entry was posted on Friday, December 26th, 2014 at 3:14 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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