Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Projects

Carving a new subject is always a challenge that leads down the learning path that makes the challenge a worthwhile endeavor.  The fact of the matter is that every carving project whether a familiar subject or a new subject is always a learning experience both of the subject and of the actual process of the carving technique.  A recent commission carving of the subject of a Samurai Shogun Warrior offered the opportunity to learn from the challenge of a new subject.





The first step is to do research on the internet for images of a Samurai Shogun Warrior and a documentary video on the subject.  This research files this information into the carver’s imagination to begin to form a mental image for a carving of the subject.  This process is always an interpretation of artistic qualities that takes enough of the researched images to create a suitable image that will spark the imagination of the viewer to see a Samurai Shogun Warrior in the finished carving.


The second step that is still in the imagination phase is to consider the size of wood that will be used and how the mental imagination will pose the subject to fit the block of wood.  The block of basswood to be used is two inches square by seven inches tall.  For a carving of this size any appendages would have to be connected in some fashion to the main pose of the subject.  For example, the Samurai sword could not be free wielding in mid air due to its fragile nature of running the risk of breakage.  The meant that the figure would be holding the sword in front of him with the point touching the base of the carving. The same held true to the scabbard for the sword attached to a tie at his waist at the hilt and with the scabbard’s other end touching the base. The decorative horn like embellishment on the front of the helmet appeared to be thin and fragile. Imagination interpreted a thicker version to be a suggestion the basic idea. The same imaginative interpretations were made for the armor, helmet and clothing style to be a suggestion for a Samurai warrior uniform. The color Red was chosen to be predominant to symbolize power and strength.


Once these planning features were accepted for guiding the development of the design the actual carving began.  The first phase is to carve the outline for the base and to carve the head covering and head area into a dowel shape by removing the corners of the block of basswood.  The helmet with horns is carved to basic form along with the battle mask covering the face in the rounded dowel shape at the top of the basswood block.


With the basic form of the head established the body portion is divided into thirds for the Rule of Three for body portion in order to draw in the guidelines for the body pose.  The four photos below show the four views of the posture.



The next four photos show the beginning of shaping the basic form following the path of the drawn guidelines.



The next series of photos show progressive steps of refining the basic form moving ever so close to adding the details features in the body portion. While this is going on the imagination is still tweaking the design so much so that the design develops and is adapted during the carving process.  “Design by Carving” is an ongoing process throughout the entire carving process.






These last series of photos will show the detail carving into the armor, helmet, hands, sword, battle mask and finished details ready for painting.

In the end, after the carving project is finished, the challenge has been accepted, learning has taken place and the carver has enjoyed the process, what remains is to await the next challenge of a new project because “Woodcarving is more the journey than the destination,” so let the journey begin again.






This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021 at 3:16 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.

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.