Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Tutorials



  PROGRESSIVE STEPS of a carving subject are a visual aid to visualize the development from the opening cuts through steps towards a completed carving.  Here are three examples of Progressive Steps in the accompanying photographs of carving a male face in the top illustration and the female face in the second and third illustration.  With each Progressive Step illustration the viewer is to study each face in progression of development to imagine what cuts were necessary to  accomplish each step.  While being a helpful reference tool, the greater function of the Progressive Steps illustration is to help the carver to develop the ability to see a carving develop in one’s imagination.

Studying a Progressive Steps illustration the viewer realizes that one has to read between the lines, so to speak, when following each step and allow imagination to fill in the blanks in between each step.  Using the Brasstown Carvers illustration in the top photograph, let us consider each step in the development of the male face. The first example on the left shows the eyebrow notch and nose has been carved as the opening cuts.  The second example shows the side of the head at the forehead has been narrowed.  The third example shows the hairline has been established, the forehead received its angles of shape and  smile line notch has been carved on one side of the nose nostril.  The fourth example shows the face has been narrowed down from the cheek bones through the sides of the jaw line, both smile lines notches have been carved to establish the sides of the dental curve with the beginning of a mouth mound.  Notice also that the face proportions have been established with  three equal division of Hairline to Eyebrows; Eyebrows to Tip of Nose and Tip of Nose to Bottom of Chin. The fifth, sixth and seventh examples show hair styles developed, ears developed, eyes carved, mouth carved into smiles along with facial wrinkles of three individual faces.  Example eight shows the beginning of a hat with the head going up into the hat and example nine shows a detailed Santa hat and Santa face with mustache and beard with all the other facial features that proceeded in the earlier examples.

The two Female Face Progressive Steps are to be studied in like manner allowing one’s imagination the fill in the gaps in-between. “If it can be imagine in can be,” is born out in the creative process of being able to see with the mind.  The mind will guide the hands that hold the shaping tool in removing the necessary wood into the shape needed for a good foundation for the eventual final step of laying in the detail features.

The next step after studying a Progressive Steps guide with imagination is to practice carving each step with a carving tool being guided by one’s imagination realizing that this practice exercise is a learning process than may be repeated several times to gain the skill of working with imagination and tool guided by hands shaping the wood.  During these practice sessions the creativity of imagination will continue to make discoveries and fill in the gaps and read between the lines.  Continuing this process one will discover that “the more you carve the better you carve,” and “learning never ends as it follows the Progressive Steps to learn as you carve.”   Remember the Wood Bee Carver’s motto: “Would be carvers would be carvers if they would carve wood.”

Below is another example of Progressive Steps for carving a female face created by the late George Keilhofer who was the resident woodcarver in Frankenmuth, MI.


Wayne Holsopple was the creator of the facial Progressive Steps below in the mid 1980’s along with an instructional brochure in the second photo.  Both are instructional and beneficial for carving the male face.


May all your carving steps be “Progressive” towards getting the most out of your carving journey.

This entry was posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2021 at 3:11 pm and is filed under Tutorials. 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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