Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Santa Carvings

The carving of Santa and Snowman in the middle of a wreath is a Harley Schmitgen design that was carved from one of his rough outs.  This photograph was used as our Christmas card in 2009.  My sister was so taken by the unique design that she commissioned me to carve two smaller versions of the Harley Schmitgen original.  Harley, who is an Emeritus CCA member, is noted for his relief portraits carved out of two inch thick wood that looks like it is a much larger carving in the round.  The two carvings that are the subject of this posting were each  carved in the round out of a five inches tall by three and a half inches square block of basswood.  Traditional gouge carving tools were used in this carving project. 



These four photographs are of the two completed carvings with the major difference being in the coloring of the scarves of the snowmen.  White acrylic paint was used to paint the snowmen and the white trim of Santa’s hat while the rest of the coloration was done with artist oil paints and boiled linseed oil.  The next series of photographs will show  the carvings in progress.

The carving on the right is the original Harly Schmitgen rough out relief carving  that is nine inches tall, six inches wide and two and half inches thick.  The block of basswood on the left has a cartoon image drawn on the front of the five inch tall by three and half inch square block.  The carving to basic form process begins by removing the negative space on either side of Santa’s hat and head.  The snowman’s carrot nose and hat brim are the highest parts of the design so everything else is lowered in stair step fashion as will be evident in viewing the next series of photographs.  Carving in a block of wood allows for creative latitude in developing the overall design without trying to carve a carbon copy of the original.  Thus while both completed carvings look basically the same, yet upon further study it is evident that each can stand alone as having distinct personality of eye appeal.


In the first photograph above the block on the right shows that the negative space on the outside of the cartoon drawing has been carved away.  The other block with the cartoon drawing is for comparison of the progress.  In the second photograph, the carving on the left has been carved to basic form with noticable stair step levels of the design.  The third photograph shows the carving on the left has been completed with detail carving while it is compared with the cartoon drawing on the block of wood.  The fourth photograph gives a comparison between a completed carving and one that is carved to basic form. 

 By studying all four photographs together while imagining the carving process  one can almost see the carving coming to life.  A good part of the carving process is “carving within one’s imagination or mentally carving the project.”  It is like “reading between the lines” and “filling in the blanks,” that creates the “whole picture.”  Ninety percent of carving is “imagination” while ten percent is the actual hand-on-tool and tool-to-wood carving process.

My thanks to Harley Schmitgen for his original design of Santa and Snowman and  especially to Harley  and  his wife Midge for all they give to the woodcarving family through their instructions and unique interpretation of woodcarving art.

This entry was posted on Saturday, December 4th, 2010 at 8:37 pm and is filed under Santa Carvings. 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.