Carve a Snowflake Ornament

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Crushed shell creates the icy sparkle

By Scott Grove

Despite our best intentions, many of the “quick and easy” projects that we start in the weeks leading up to the holidays aren’t ready until next year. Here’s a project that you can wrap up in a few hours. In a good weekend, you could finish a flurry of unique gifts.

The secret to the ornament’s snowy sparkle is crushed mother of pearl. The iridescent inlay is set into the carved grooves of a snowflake-shaped design with cyanoacrylate adhesive (CA) (see Buyer’s Guide, p. 70).

To get you started, I’ve provided a few snowflake patterns, but I encourage you to come up with your own designs because experimentation keeps things exciting.

If you don’t have a lathe to create the convex shape, you can simply carve the snowflake patterns onto flat discs, but I think that it’s easier to refine the carving on a convex surface. Either way, select a wood that’s easy to carve and tight-grained. Dark-colored woods like purpleheart, walnut, and padauk offer an attractive contrast with the translucent white-ish color of the mother of pearl inlay. If you choose to use a lighter-colored wood like beech or maple, you can change the color of the inlay with aniline dyes to make the carvings stand out.

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