Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects


HOLLY SNOWMAN was carved out of a six inch tall  by one and half inch square block of basswood. There is a sprig of holly in the hat band of the top hat and holly leaves decorate the red tie thus giving the snowman his name of “Holly Snowman.” The  checker board plaid lines of the green vest were carved and woodburned both to give texture as well as contrasting dark lines to the green vest.

The shirt is a yellow hue to add contrast to the stark whiteness of the snow man’s body while the red mittens, patch on elbow and red tie with carved holly leaves painted green add interest to a simple subject.

The white part was painted with acrylic paint while the rest was painted with artist oil paint and boiled linseed oil.  Later a finish coat of Deft was applied.  Artist oil paint in the white color does not always offer a consistent “whiteness” when thinned with boiled linseed oil so when painting a snow man, acrylic white provides a consistent whiteness. The chunks of coal for the eyes, the mouth opening and the holly berries on the tie were woodburned as the coloring agent.

SNOWMAN BEING CARVEDNinety five percent of Holly Snowman was carved using a carving knife and skew carving tool made by Bud Murray. The skew chisel by its design is a slicing tool as it is pushed forward.  Carvers in America tend to rely upon the knife for doing the kind of cuts  a skew will do while European and Oriental carvers use the skew instead of a carving knife.  Using the skew more often proves its versatility.

Once a carving instructor from Austria was on tour here in the United States demonstrating his carving skills as publicity for the Austrian carving school.  He used a skew chisel exclusively to carve a human face out of a large block of wood.

Holly Snowman became the learning opportunity for carving with a skew.  The result was remarkable and pleasing.


As a study in contrasts these four photographs show the completed carving of Holly Snowman before being painted.  The wood-burned detailing are apparent by adding texture and contrast to the basswood.  The carrot nose has been soaked with super glue because the cross grained thinness needs to be strengthened.

The holly leaves were carved using a five milimeter number six gouge.  The outside curvature of the holly leaves were shaped with six perpendicular stop cuts to outline the shape of a holly leaf and then angled cuts with the same gouge to the stop cuts releaved  the leaves.  The same gouge dished out the con-caved shape of the leaves.

Every carving project is a learning experience as was the case for this “old whittler” learning to use a gouge, skew and wood burner to enhance the the carving of Holly Snowman.  Like I always say, “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood,” because “the more one carves – the better one carves.”

This entry was posted on Friday, January 15th, 2010 at 4:23 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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