Hand Carving a Pin

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Hand Carving a Pin

I made small in-the-round Christmas ornaments for friends. When I noticed that the women liked them so much, I decided to give my gifts a life that would outlive the holiday. That's when the idea for pins came to me. 

Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin

At first, I would carve an item in the round and cut off the back to accommodate the pin. Or, for a different kind of display, I glued a magnet on the reverse side and made the project into a refrigerator magnet. This approach was refined to the point where I now carve high relief. I also expanded my themes from Christmas to other holidays: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day and Easter. Some of the women who receive my pins wear them for an entire holiday season. And magnets stay on refrigerators all year long. 

Hand Carving a Pin

An Inspiration 


Since autumn is my favorite time of year, I began to look around for inspiration for a pin design. In a greeting card store I came across a great idea that puts a baby bear in a pumpkin. Hand Carving a Pin Since I have carved both bears and pumpkins in the past, I decided that this would make an easy project. If you’re in need of a project pattern, check out greeting cards. But I don’t recommend making an exact copy any more than you would be comfortable having someone copy your original ideas.

Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin



The Wood and the Tools 

Basswood is my choice for most if not all of my projects. However, for the baby bear in a pumpkin pin just about any softwood will do. If a hardwood like butternut is chosen, then it can be coated with a clear finish instead of paint so that the grain is prominent. However, the details can be lost if too much figure is present in the wood.

Hand Carving a Pin

Since the project is such a simple one, it can be done with just a knife. However, I also use a variety of small gouges for the fine details and special effects.

Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin

Centerlines and Blocking Out


Hand Carving a Pin

I consider centerlines and blocking out very useful and important aids in the carving process. The centerline is a road map, telling me where to go. In most cases, it represents the high point of the area I am carving. All else “falls off” or is removed down from it. 



Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin

Blocking out is the process of carving an area to its basic shape. Once there, the details fall into place. When I start carving, I don’t even think of the details, much less try to carve them at the start. 

Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin
Hand Carving a Pin

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