Woodcraft is a popular and challenging hobby for some, an ancient art and profession for others. In all circumstances it is an involving, skilful and satisfying activity. The depiction of animals in wooden sculpture has been a staple of artistic expression for epochs, from single sculptures to animals engraved in totem poles. Of animals depicted in wood carvings, the bear has always remained very popular.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Carbon tracing paper
- Block of soft wood (poplar, pine)
- Small saw
- Carving knife
- Scout knife
- Spoon gouge
Select the wood you want to use. A soft wood like poplar is best. Sculpting a bear in fine wood like teak or mahogany would be expensive, but yield gorgeous results. Practice with cheaper wood until you are competent.
Trace the design for your bear, using the carbon tracing paper and pencil, onto the block of wood. Draw a centre line right down the middle of your design on the wood. This allows for much more accurate sawing, chiselling and cutting, because it is easy to monitor the symmetry of the bear.
Using the small saw, begin at the back and cut away all the extraneous wood to reveal the general shape of your bear. Follow the lines of your design as closely as possible. Use the scout knife and chisel to trim and smooth the edges of the bear once the main bulk of wood has been removed.
Add the features to your bear using the gouge, chisel, fine claw chisel and scout knife. The fine claw chisel, which acts like a small rake, creates a marvellous effect that resembles fur. Use the tip of the scout knife to carve the eyes and ears, mouth and snout. Gouge the bear at your discretion to add depth to the fur and other features.
Sand down the bear and wash it to get rid of dust and bits of wood. Ensure the bear is sanded down evenly all over. Even out lumps and awkward patches with a combination of the scout knife and sandpaper. Dry it thoroughly after washing.
Paint the bear. This is an opportunity to personalise your bear, or copy the style and clothing of some of the great cartoon bears, like Paddington or Rupert. You could create a character for your bear; have him in detectives' clothes or fishing gear, for example.
Varnish your bear. Once the paint is well and truly dry, take a clean brush and paint varnish all over your bear. Put the bear in a place where it will not be disturbed to dry.
Polish your bear. Once the varnish has dried, polish your bear with a clean cloth and some wood polish. Mount your bear in a prominent position in your house.
Tips and warnings
- Use protective gloves and safety goggles when handling blades and carving wood.
- Adults must supervise children at all times.
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