Wherever I Go Sawdust Follows…

by Brad Isaac on December 27, 2008

In my post make a pile of chips I talked about Abraham Maslow’s wife and her mentor’s advice to make a pile of chips. The moral of the story is even though you may not know what you are doing, start something. By making a pile of chips, you allow underdeveloped ideas to take shape.

This year has been my best for woodcarving. Starting with a few blocks of basswood, saws and some new professional carving tools from my family, I set out to make some Christmas elf ornaments I found in a magazine.

I quickly learned I had underestimated the skill level required for these ornaments. Two weeks had passed and you couldn’t even tell what the first ornament was supposed to be!

I wanted to to give up and simply carve some beginner Santas. In fact I bought a book Carving Santas from Around the World.  But I decided to stick with it a bit longer. After all, carving is fun, even if I am only making a pile of chips.

The challenge

My greatest mistake was not predicting how darn difficult the eyes would be. My first elf’s eyes may appear quite sunken due to me carving, re-carving and carving again. But finally, with the aid of an eye carving model and practice stick, I think I got the hang of it.

When it was finally time to part with the ornaments, I didn’t want to. My piles of chips had taken on personalities of their own. First came the elf I named Knibblesby, whom I gave to my sister.

carving_elf 001

During the carving of this whimsical elf, my kids and I would make up stories about his adventures sneaking into parties just so he could nibble appetizers.

The second elf I named Beardsly for obvious reasons.

carving_elf 005

He wasn’t as fun for the kids for he had an old stoic demeanor and quickly became known around the house as a grumbler about a great many things.  But I love him and I’m quite happy with the end result:



Woodcarving really drives home the point “it’s the journey, not the destination.”  The reason is since I’ve finished the ornaments, there is a void.  Yes, I feel a little let down that I don’t have a project in progress.

Sure, I can start another one, but which one?  heh…maybe I’ll start a gargoyle for my next journey. What do you think?

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maggie December 28, 2008 at 4:40 am

What you say say here is proof of the ‘movement restores harmony’ idea. Whatever you do will take you somewhere. It may not be where you thought you were going, but it is up the ladder. At the end of the day something was achieved, you did something. Even if it was only creating memories. It would b difficult to forget your elf, for many reasons. Well done!

Richard December 28, 2008 at 12:39 pm

Good to see that you persevered with the elf carvings, you’ve made a very good job and the gargoyles would be a great idea.

B Riley December 28, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Wow! That’s great work!

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