Carving Crafts by Eucalyptus Ike
Basic Carving
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Pine Miniatures
Liquid Amber Mini
Some people knit, some paint, some work in clay,  make pots,  weave, sew,
garden, play poker, drink, smoke, take drugs.  You get the idea....Personally,
however, Ike has had to give up most of these pursuits in order to find the time
for his real passion: wasting time with wood.  And when he is really feeling
good about it, he can waste a whole lot of time just sitting around whittling
('cause he can't hardly drink and he can't smoke at all any longer). Now, you
take any small piece of soft wood, see, like pine from a two by four you have
laying around in the garage and you commence to the following.  Cut the two
by four up into some smaller pieces, say two 2x2s about 3-4 inches in length.  
Of course you won't really end up with two 2x2s when you cut a 2x4 in half
because a two by four isn't really 2 inches by 4 inches at all. (They always cut
the boards a little bit smaller than they say they do, to chisel you out of some of
the wood so they can sell less wood than they say to even more people. That's
just one of the ways this old world works, so get used to it.)  
Mini in Balsa
Anyway, once you have the piece of soft pine going for you, cut out an oval section like you see in the photo to the left
(on Egyptian monuments it's called a cartouche). Personally, I prefer a recurve X-Acto blade for all hand carving, but
you can take your pick of numerous carving knives for this purpose.  Next, try cutting in the nose. Just block it out like
what you see in figure 2, and leave it rough for the present.  While you're at it, narrow down the jaw slightly as well.
Next, you are going to cut in the two cartouche positions for the eyes.  Yes, I mean cut in two little ovals or squares
beside the bridge of the nose, like you see in figure 3.  Also, make a V shaped slit in the wood where you want the
mouth to go. Again just look at the photo (Figure three) to see about where it goes.  (Like you don't know where the
mouth is on your face?)  Now you have got the basic carving blocked out and from here on everything is just a
refinement of what you have already done.
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Figure 3
Figure 1
Figure 2
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Figure 5
Figure 4
Once you have the basic carving roughed out, you can begin to refine your work. Now it might not look like it, but
Figures 4 and 5 show two different results from the roughed out basic carving you see in Figure 3.  Figure 4-left
shows a right eye with no upper lid.  Simply round up the eye cartouche in Figure 3 to get the right eye in Figure 4.  
Then cut in the lid and round up the remaining eyeball.  Figure 4-right differs from Figure 4-left primarily because the
mouth is open and the lips are bigger, the face is elongated and so the eyes are larger, and the forehead has been
rounded off slightly.  Otherwise, either could be the next step in refining the basic design.  Notice that the original
cartouche (Figure 1) has been used as a frame for the face in both carvings.  The figures appear to be ‘cloaked’
(wearing a hood) but the real purpose of the ‘cloaking’ is to conceal the ears (which would be expecting a lot for a
first lesson). The top hat in Figure 5-right is just another option which is easy to add to the basic design.  Rounding
down or cutting in the surface just outside the basic cartouche also helps to give the carvings a more finished look.  
Finally, a little hand sanding with fine sand paper and two coats of clear varnish will highlight the texture of the grain
Furthermore, either of these pieces can now be used as the handle, for example, for a walking stick, a wooden
sword, back scratcher, file or cane. All we need is more pine 2x2, a two inch long piece of 1/2 inch dowel, and some
Elmer's Wood Glue....Naturally, we would also have to carve the stick, sword, cane as well.  But that's another
project.   
Adding hair and ears to a miniature is not particularly difficult if you plan
for it from the beginning.  Just block out enough of the 2x2 to provide
wood for the ears.  Look in a mirror and you will see that your ears are
on the same level or horizontal plane as your eyes.  Notice, you could
put ears on both carvings in Figure 5 by using the wood for the hood.  I
carve the ears last so they are not damaged by accident while I’m
carving the eyes or nose parts.  To carve hair requires also leaving a little
extra wood on top of the head. First you round up the head like the
examples to the right.  Then cut banana shaped locks by removing v-
shaped lines of wood from front to back and side to top across the top
of the head.  A little fiddling with it and you will get the idea.  Try the
technique out first on any rounded up piece of wood if you don’t want
to jeopardize a carving.  Ear shape is tough to describe, but on a mini
just about any reasonable shape will work. Figure 6 shows two types,
one a simple dowel shape, the other more realistic. The wedding ring
provides you with some idea of the scale.  On your second carving,
consider changing the size of the nose, mouth, or eyes.  Small changes
can make a big difference as you can see from the miniatures on this
page.   
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Figure 6