One of my favorite things about the holiday season is the traditions, both old and new, that come along with it. This week’s post features the handiwork of my dad, Sal. Every year, he embarks on a new wood carving project, either making a Christmas gift for a loved one, or simply adding to his own ornament collection.
There he is every year, whittling away after breakfast or while watching a television show. He says it is therapeutic, and I can understand why. His wood blocks turn into santas, snowmen, North Pole people, and others of the like. Some carvings become ornaments, and others are stand-alone decorative pieces.
The type of wood that he uses is a hard wood called basswood. His tool collection consists of chisels, gougers, and scoopers of many shapes and sizes (i.e. “v” shape, regular blade, curved scooper, etc). Most importantly, he shared, his tools are very sharp.
Before carving, he makes a pencil sketch on the block of basswood. As he whittles away, he continuously re-sketches in order to keep the image on the wood. Carving away from a block of wood proves challenging in that it is not possible to put back any wood: work slowly and diligently, and take off small amounts at a time. After he finishes carving, he uses fine grit sandpaper (around 400) to take off any rough edges on the face, cheeks, or hat. The final step is to use blends of acrylic paints to bring the piece to life.For pieces that become ornaments, he screws an eye hook into its top and uses thread to hang it on the Christmas tree. These wood carvings are true works of art, and I look forward to seeing his toolbox come out every holiday season. His creativity broadens each year (see the violin snowman below), and it is always a surprise as to what he will make next!
Note: All photographs taken by Sal.