Wood Spirit Carving

Wood Spirit General Instructions Part One

By L.S. Irish

For your convenience, we have placed all of the images on this page on one large file. Click on the image name below. When the image has opened in your browser, right hand click on the image. In the menu select ‘Save Image As’. Large Facial Plane Image.

Step by Step Instructions

Front View

Side View

Begin with a wood blank of basswood or butternut. For more information on carving woods that would be appropriate to this project, please visit Carving Woods.

For a basic practice piece cut the blank into a 2″ x 2″ x 6″ rectangle. Some carvers will work the main carving on one of the flat planes of the blank, others carve the face from the corner edge of two of the planes. For this practice piece you will be working on the flat plane of the blank.

The wood spirit is worked without a traced pattern at this stage. You will be creating a series of wedged shaped cuts that will establish planes within the face first, then with a pencil you will be marking details for later carving. You will be using a bench knife, slloyds knife, small v-gouge or veining tool and a small u-gouge to complete this piece.

Mark a pencil line at the half way point in the surface of the blank. This is the placement mark for the bridge of the nose. Cut a wedge into the blank about half inch deep across the full width of the blank. Taper the wedge cut down toward the bottom of the blank surface to define the slope of the nose.

Note: It is the bridge of the nose that is the dividing point for the face, not the tip of the nose.

Cut a second wedge about three fourths from the top of the blank. This cut will become the bottom of the nose and the beginning area for the mouth and is about one quarter inch deep. Taper this cut toward the chin area.

Note: The bridge of the nose sets deeper into the face that does the bottom of the nose.

The next step is to taper the forehead area of the face. Slope the face away from the brow ridge line, this is
the line that you established with the pencil at the beginning. The top of the forehead should be deeper into the blank than the chin area.

Note: The forehead of the face takes up about one half of the full face area, with the brow line at the center of the face and the eyes set slightly below this central mark.

The blank now has three separate planes established, the forehead area, the nose area, and the mouth and chin area. Draw two lines down the nose area to divide it into three equal parts. This creates the width of the nose. Cut a narrow but deep wedge along each side of the nose, this separates the nose from the cheek area. Next cut a deep wedge to establish the eye plane. This cut begins at the brow line ridge and dips back into the the face behind the bridge area of the nose. Finish this step by tapering the cheek areas back into the eye plane.

Note: The eye area is the deepest set area in the face and lies below the brow line. The eye itself should be set in a flat plane.

With a pencil create the lines for the nostrils. The nose in this area of the face expands into the cheek area. Cut wedges along the nostrils to separate them from the cheek. Taper these wedges down toward the mouth area. The bottom of this taper where it is meeting the mouth area is almost as deep as the eye plane. A v-cut is made at this point in the center of the brow ridge to create two separate eye brows. Also begin to establish the mouth with a deep wedge cut.

Note: In the human face, the outer edge of the nostril lies in a parallel line with the center of the eye’s pupil.

At this point take time to check your work. Do you have well defined planes? Deepen any area as needed. Your carving is only about one half inch into the wood blank, you still have another 1 1/2 inches of wood to use.


Carving the Wood Spirit Face

Wood Spirit General Instructions, Part One

Wood Spirit General Instructions, Part Two

Wood Spirit General Instructions, Part Three

Wood Spirit General Instructions, Part Four

Wood spirit patterns by Lora S IrishGreenmen & Gothic Animals Pattern Package, at Art Designs Studio, 16 large sized .jpg images, ready to download and print from your home computer. This pack includes the greenmen, dragons, hog, eagle, hawk, and lion. These patterns are continuous – closed path designs. Great for Wood Burning!

2 thoughts on “Wood Spirit Carving”

  1. I’m starting out carving I use carving knives as I can’t get used to chisels can you give me some advice on which wood is best to start I’ve tried plywood but soon worked out that the layers are hard to judge depth I got oak for my pyrography but that’s hard balsa just to thin, so any advice would be greatly appreciated

  2. Hi Richard, You should start with basswood which is classified as a hardwood species but is soft and easy to cut. Go to Ebay.com and put in the search string ‘carving wood’ or ‘carving blocks’. As you skills grow you can move onto other carving woods as mahogany, maple, and cedar.

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