Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Friends, Santa Carvings


SANTA’S WORKSHOP was displayed in public only for a few short years between 2002 and 2007 when it was sold to a private collector. The first five photographs displayed here were taken at the 2005 Artistry in Wood Show, Dayton, Ohio.  Ray Kunz was the guiding influence of a small group of carving friends who designed, carved and assembled Santa’s Workshop.



Ray also wrote a delightful poem to tell its story which combined with specific photographs became a power point presentation.  That power point presentation has been adapted into still photographs for posting on this blog with the words from the poem telling the story of each photo.

Following the photo and poem display the rest of the story of Santa’s Workshop will be told through the words of Ray Kunz in case anyone would like to do a similar carving project.


Ray Kunz, speaking in first person says, I got the idea for Santa’s Workshop after seeing the CCA’s Full Moon Saloon and Circus carvings. I thought we, as a club, ought to be able to do something like that, maybe a Santa’s Workshop scene. I first envisioned it as a club project, but that idea was dismissed early on and the six of us  (Bill & Juanita Earley, Ralph Moeller, Don Worley, Lenard Watts and myself) whose woodcarving expertise ranged from caricatures to stylized, with decoys, birds, human figures and relief sandwiched in between, got together on the project. We started working on various things separately for a couple years and about that time we realized that if we were going to get this completed, we had to make a concerted effort.  So, in late 2001 we decided to meet every week for ½ day at Earley’s house and work on Santa’s Workshop. That’s when it started to come together. That last year we worked religiously up until final completion just before Artistry in Wood in November of 2002.

Everything in the workshop display is made of wood. The walls and floor are made of plywood. The roof is 1/4″ plywood shingled with hand split cedar shakes. The outer walls were given a stucco look by texturing with drywall compound and the insides of the walls were painted with texture spray paint. All of the inside woodwork, such as the wainscoting and trim is butternut. Butternut was also used for most of the timber frame construction and western red cedar was used for the planked floors and sassafras for roof rafters. The fireplace, chimney and hearth are all basswood, carved and painted to look like stone. The window at the bottom of the double staircase is trimmed in butternut with a lamp lit watercolor painting in the background to depict an imaginary North Pole outdoor scene.

The scale for the project was 1-1/4” =1ft. That made Santa about 7-1/2” tall and the elves in the 3-1/2” to 5” range which is a scale that makes them appear to be about 4 ft. tall compared to Santa. All the machinery, work benches and furnishings are scaled to a normal size which is why the elves need to stand on boxes or something to reach most of them which we felt added interest. I came up with the design of the building so we started out with the idea that I should build the building and the others would do the figures.

All of the figures are Basswood and were designed and carved specifically for Santa’s Workshop and all are originals. Each carver carved in his own style, so we have a mix of styles in this one display. That’s why all the elves look different. We felt this would add interest and would produce the best possible carvings since each carver would not be trying to emulate a style with which they were not familiar. Together we would come up with ideas for the figures, like the guy on the pot and the cook in the kitchen, the dog peeing on the tree, wrapping presents, loading sleigh, etc.

I did most of the building myself except for some help with the fireplace that Ralph did and some help making split shingles that Lenard helped me with. Some of the special things, like the kitchen stove, the crown fork lift, sleigh, reindeer antler chandelier and some of the tools were done by Ralph, Lenard, Don and Bill.  Juanita did a lot of the special figures and details like the braided rug in Santa’s area and all the books in the bookcase, some mantle pieces, the elf on the pot, toys and of course some of the elves.

The Christmas tree was carved to represent a 12′ tree. The tree is entirely carved of 140 individual branches which are assembled onto a center post in 10 layers. The tree has about 80 ornaments and each one is individually hand painted and each one different. There are 50 low voltage lights on the tree, which required 100 wires that had to be hidden within the confines of the branches. The tree was carved and painted by Ralph, Lenard and me.

All together from idea to completion the project took about 3 ½ to 4 years but most of the work was done in the last year.


The outside walls were hollow to allow for electric wires where needed.

The fire in the fireplace was simulated with the use of fiber optic cables coming from a red and yellow light source in a woodshed on the outside of the workshop.

One big design problem was to make the whole display be able to be taken apart and be boxed up for transport.

Assembly of the workshop had to be done in a certain way. It would not go together if it wasn’t done in sequential steps. The first time it was assembled I was the only one that knew how it went together so everyone had to watch me.

It was displayed at Artistry In Wood as the Special Exhibit in 2002. It was also displayed at the Sidney Ohio show, the Bellville IL. show and it was a special exhibit at the Sauder Village show but I don’t know the dates of those..One day while Lenard and I were doing the boring job of making hundreds of cedar roof shingles, he turned to me and said “I don’t know why I let you talk me into helping you with these damn things”. Then we both laughed!!The complete workshop was sold in 2007 for $15,000.00

Ray Kunz 12/3/2011


This entry was posted on Sunday, December 4th, 2011 at 6:42 pm and is filed under Carving Friends, 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.

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