New carvings: Hillbilly, snake, and more dogs

Until recently, all of my carving “instruction” was through books, web sites, and YouTube videos.  I guess you could say that I was “self taught” in that I didn’t have the benefit of personal instruction, but I have to give credit for my improvement to the authors and especially those who made the carving videos.

Back in the summer I stumbled across a picture tutorial for carving a hillbilly in the flat plane style.  With step by step instructions and almost 60 pictures, it walks you through turning a 6″x1″x1″ block of wood into this:

I did most of the carving last summer, but hadn’t finished texturing the beard.  Last week I saw it sitting unfinished on my shelf and decided to complete it.

I started taking a beginning carving class from a member of my woodcarving club (Central Texas Woodcarvers Association) about four weeks ago.  The second project we did was a snake, carved from a piece of aromatic cedar:

The primary purpose of the exercise was to introduce the concept of “reading” the wood and working with grain changes.  I sanded it smooth and left it unfinished because I didn’t want to mask that nice cedar smell.

And I keep carving these little dogs.  I carved a dozen or more from basswood, and at least a dozen from other woods:  oak, maple, mesquite, cherry, and walnut.  In the picture below, the small one is cherry and the larger one is walnut.  Both are finished with a mixture of oil and wax.  The only coloring is on the face:  ears, eyes, nose, and mouth.

Several people have commented that it looks like the little dog is leaning away from the big dog, perhaps because the big dog has done something objectionable.  The little dog’s surprised expression and the big dog rolling its eyes as if to say, “It wasn’t me” seem to bear that out.  I wish I could say that I planned it that way.