Ever since I took a road trip down to Tijuana with my girlfriends in my crazy days, I have looooved Alebrijes, those tiny colorful Oaxacan wood carvings of an endless variety of animals. I have always wanted to make some. So check it out, an e-mail comes to my inbox about a new crafting book that I was so dang excited about. After clicking some linkage and doing maybe just a little bit of drooling over the author's Menagerie, I pretty much HAD to get my hands on a copy of Steve Tomashek's "Tiny Whittling", and IPG (Independent Publishers Group) was super kind enough to send me one.
The book came, and after reading through the first few pages, I found out exactly what I needed to get started. I got some leather finger guards, a big block of basswood, and a carving knife from treelineusa.com. The book says you can get by with cheapy hobby or XACTO knife, but I really wanted to go for the gusto, so I sprung for the real deal, and I think it made a big difference.
There were a few ultra-beginner projects in the book carving soap and carrots, but I skipped right to one of the beginning wood projects, "Songbird" being a little over-confident in retrospect. This wasn't like...super easy... but then again it wasn't too hard for me to pick up. I think the main thing is patience, because it took a little longer than I had expected. The instructions in the book were good. They were simple enough so I didn't get overwhelmed and confused, but gave all the necessary info. Basically, I went into the thing staring at a wood block, having no idea where to begin to shape this thing into a bird, and the instructions tell you in steps just what to do to make the shape you want. And there were tips on what direction you want the wood grain to go, which makes the carving much easier. Plus plenty of other little tips about stuff a beginner wouldn't have ever thought about.
Here is my finished whittled birdy shape. It's a little rough, and doesn't look just like the book, but not bad, right? It took me about an hour and a half to go from woodblock to this. I made a giant mess of wood chips, and the basswood smelled a little bit like popcorn. One thing, the leather thumb guard was definitely needed. If you do this, get one of those. I like my thumbs and want to keep them, so I'm glad I got the guard.
The book gives instructions on how to paint it like a goldfinch, but I went with my own little design and made a robin instead. Genius tip, it says to drill a hole in the bottom so you can put the figure on a toothpick for easy painting. Super smart! Worked like a charm.
Tiny Whittling and heartily recommend it :)