Posted by: woodbeecarver   in BEE Buzz

“Woodcarving is more the journey than the destination,” is a saying I often use in reference to the actual carving process as being the joy of carving.  The finished carving is nice to view on display, give as a gift, deliver as the completion of a commission or enter in competition.  Outside of that, the real joy is doing another carving, the journey of carving. 

Having said all that, yet there is value in making a “Sentimental Journey” by looking and studying one’s earlier carvings, kind of like a “benchmark” to see where we have been on the carving journey.  This post will show some photographs of such “benchmark” carvings.


These four photographs of “Benchmark” carvings were carved in between 1976 and 1980 showing early attempts to learn by doing.  Studying these carvings one will note that the figures’ legs are too short and the facial features are very crude.  The female figure was a very early attempt to try to carve a face, hands and outfit of a woman holding a basket of flowers along with painting the carving.  The paint was too thick or heavy but “nothing is every a complete failure as it can always serve as a negative example.”  These are simply “learning pieces” to show how one can grow in the carving process.


These four carvings were done in 1984.  The first one was inspired by a carving that my good carving and knife buddy, the late George Stewart, showed me that he purchased in Mountain View, Arkansas.  It stands three inches tall and one inch wide.  The next two were attempts to do more carvings of an Ozark hillbilly that was followed by carving a Sea Captain.  Each one was a learning experience and serve as a benchmark on the wood carving journey.


Early carvings done around 1978 as learning pieces.  As I remember it, these learning pieces were slow going in trying to figure out what cuts to make to get to the mental image of what was being carved.  In studying each carving there are many “mistakes of learning” that stand out, but the journey would not have happened without making these “steps of trying.”


The “cowboy” is a common carving theme and is recognizable by the cowboy outfit.  While these carvings, done in 1978 and 1982, contain a lot of detail in the cowboy’s outfit, yet there are many aspects of each carving that shows potential for growth.  In those early “benchmark” days I did not know very much about facial and body proportions as in evident in these carvings depicted on this post. 

A vital part of the carving process is to be always studying, experimenting, trying something new and challenging to grow in the carving experience.  Taking classes is a good way to learn as is participating in a carving club where one can learn so much from other carvers.  Of course, wood carving books, magazines and plain old “observation” can also teach one a lot about how one “sees” a carving before it is carved. 

 Benchmark Carvings on the Sentimental Journey can also be a great teacher that shows us where we have been and where we have yet to go.  Woodcarving is a journey, so enjoy the ride.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 at 3:52 pm and is filed under BEE Buzz. 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.

One comment


You’ve just confirmed my experience of carving, the more you do it the better it gets. Mind you my first attempts were so bad anything that followed had to be an improvement!

May 19th, 2009 at 10:12 am

Leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.