Bear Carving – progress report

Having enjoyed the early stages of cutting out the rough shape of the bear from the piece of lime wood, I am now attempting the more detailed carving work. Having had no previous experience of wood carving, I am basically learning as I carve.


As I have felt most comfortable with the palm tools, I have persisted with them for gouging out further wood in areas such as behind the paws and on the back of the bear. The gouges come in all sizes and the smallest one is ideal for giving the impression of hair. As this is intended as an experimental piece, I have tested various gouges to compare the results.


I have gradually shaped the limbs of the bear and started to carve out some claws. The carving knives seem harder to use than the gouges and it is very important to keep them sharp. I have started to cut around the claws and feet. It can be quite time consuming using the knife but it is better than using a gouge and slicing off too big a section of the carving.


The piece of lime wood has a fault running through it which explains the unusual markings. That need not necessarily be a bad thing as it adds a bit of character. As I mentioned in my previous post, I made a mistake in not planning out my bear more precisely. As a result, it is really not deep enough for me to have the nose and the arch of the neck and back in the right proportion. My bear is therefore more upright than he should be but I’ll be more careful when I start my next project.


As a painter, I am used to representing three-dimensional objects in two dimensions. I now feel as though I am working almost in reverse. In my rush to get started, I based my idea on a few random reference images of bears and left the rest up to myself and the carving to determine the outcome. When I tackle more ambitious projects I shall have to be a lot better prepared.

With another couple of sessions, my bear should be close to completion. I think he looks like a cross between Rupert The Bear and a giant rabbit! He’s not going to be a fine carving by any stretch of the imagination but I’m enjoying the experience and cannot wait to move on to my next sculpture!

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