Carving the Relief Wood Spirit

Introduction and Carving – Page 1

By L. S. Irish

Wood Graining with Acrylics and Oil Stain – Page 2
Dry Brush and Rouging the Wood Spirit Face – Page 3

Click the image for a close-up view.

This fun Wood Spirit is a relief carving worked deeply into a 4 quarter (1″) basswood. Basswood is a wonderful wood for detailed carvings because of it’s soft tight grain but it has little or no color characteristics to enhance the finished work. Unlike walnut or butternut, basswood tends to be a very flat off white color throughout the wood. So we will be working on a simple, easy and fun technique to create a colorful wood grained effect using acrylic paints as a base coat and oil paints as a staining coat. Once the wood grain effect has been achieved we will add a small amount of coloring for the face and dry brush the hair. This is a great painting technique to use with our Fun Wood Spirits Pattern Package.

Since this is a tutorial on the painting steps we will just look at a brief over view of the carving stages. There are several tutorials on basic carving on this site that go into depth in how to carve a relief carving. These links are directly below the tracing and levels patterns.

Begin this project by tracing your pattern to the basswood blank. With either a band saw or scroll saw cut out the basswood along the outline of the wood spirit. You do not need to cut every little v shape along the hair lines.

Cut only the larger v’s, the small ones can be cut during the carving stage with your v-gouge. Once the project has been cut break the design down into levels for easy rough out work.

Next round over each section of the work and add your v-gouge texturing. Finish the work with a light sanding, if needed, using 220 grit sandpaper or higher. Please see the links below for a more detailed look at relief carving techniques.

Click the images below for a close-up view.

Above is the detailed line pattern for this project.
Above is the outline pattern for scroll saw cutting.
Above is the levels pattern worked for level 1 as the deepest and level 5 as the highest.


Click image for a close-up view.

These two photographs were taken at an angle to the wood spirit relief to provide you with a sense of the depth of each area of the carving. Notice that his eyes and the lower portion of the cheeks are the deepest carved areas in the work. His nose and eye brows are the highest areas, worked at the original level of the wood surface.
On the Close Ups of these side views you will see the dark shadows cast on the wall from the carving. Once the front side of the wood spirit was completed I turned this project over to work on the back. I carved the outer edges of each section of hair so that there would be a space between the hair tips and the wall. This creates a nice shadowing for your wood spirit when he is hung.


Leave a Reply

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: