The Wood Spirit is said to rule the forest. He is very elusive and folks rarely if ever see him. However, many say that they can feel his presence when walking through a forest, especially at night. He is a friendly protector to those of goodwill, but can mete out his wrath on the black hearted. He is usually very quiet and still, but sometimes when the wind blows you can hear him whisper and groan. It is said that anyone with a good heart who sees him is a lucky one indeed. That person will be blessed with happiness and good fortune. So, the next time you go for a walk in the forest, be still and listen, and keep an eye out. Hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky ones.
Or you could always carve your own. Here’s my version of the wood spirit.
Preparing the wood
This is the piece of aromatic red cedar that I carved my wood spirit from. Like many of my projects I found this piece of wood and carried it home without knowing what I might do with it. I love wood! I put it up where I could look at it on occasion until I decide what to do with it.
I eventually decided that I would carve a wood spirit from the block of wood and here I am using a draw knife to remove the loose stringy remnants of the outer bark. This exposes the white sapwood which is full of insect holes. I think the holes that remain in the finished piece just add to the look.
I use a sharp hatchet to remove the softer sapwood. But you could use whatever tool that you have available that results in the most efficient removal of wood.
After using the hatchet, I now have solid wood from which I will carve the wood spirit. I have one prominent limb protruding which I decided would be very cool to have coming from the top of the head within the hair area. It’s important to become familiar with a piece of wood before one starts carving. Remember, every piece of wood is one of a kind. It has it’s own unique qualities and features. Get to know the wood, and use these features to your advantage.
This photo gives a good look at the protruding limb which I decided to leave pretty much as is and incorporate into the carving. You also see the centerline that I drew with a Sharpie pen. The center line will help me keep the face somewhat symmetrical.
Carving the wood spirit
I drew the center line and an approximate location of the hairline. As I continue to carve this locator may change somewhat depending on how the rest of the carving goes but it functions very well as a general guide. At this same time I decide where the brow and the bottom of the nose will be, and make cuts for those.
From here I develop the face from the positions of the brow and the bottom of the nose. I do not use a pattern but instead carve by instinct. Features will develop as I carve. If you know how to draw the features of a face in their proper positions, the carving a face should come natural. If you don’t know how to draw features of a face, you should practice that before attempting to carve one, or as an alternative, use a pattern.
While roughing out the wood spirit with the chisels, I step back often to look at my progress to see that all is going as planned. If not, I make adjustments before it’s too late. Pausing also helps me decide where and how to make my next cuts.
After the basic profile is established then I begin adding the details. Here I have carved in the mounds for the eyes and added a bit of detail to the nose.
Here you can see how I made the hair flow around the protruding limb, making the carving, in my opinion, a more interesting piece. Then I carve a few wrinkles in the forehead and sand everything smooth, getting rid of any splinters. I think I could call the carving portion of this project pretty much finished at this point. How does it look?
After you are satisfied with your carving, you can then apply paint, stain, or simply use a clear coat to seal you work. Here, I’ll be using acrylic paint on eyes and beard before sealing the wood spirit with a clear coat. On the eyes, I’ll use the paint at full strength. For the majority of the beard, I only want to darken the wood slightly more than the natural wood. So when I apply the acrylic paint, I’ll immediately wipe it off, leaving behind a little more paint in the hard to reach V-tool cuts. This will result in a lighter stain on the raised areas of the beard, but slightly darker crevices.
For the final finish, I’ll spray several coats with a clear acrylic, letting the natural colors of the cedar show through. I’ll also sand the wood lightly between coats. The clear acrylic spray will darken the wood giving it an awesome look. I like to use clear satin, although other sheens work well too! And here you see the finished Wood Spirit.
Try to carve your own Wood Spirit and let us know how it goes. If you have any questions or comments, post them below.
If you have any comments or questions about carving a Wood Spirit, please leave them in the comments section below. If you like this article please share it using the share buttons on this page. We have plenty of other projects in our Workshop, so take a look.