Log Carving Portrait

In July 2016, I treated myself to a birthday present of a week long workshop in woodcarving.  This event was hosted by the Mid-America Woodcarvers.  They had quite a few options for workshops, but I decided on Basswood log carving so I could try a large 3D project.  James Barr taught the Mallet Carving class and through him I got to see just how fast a real log carver can work when he has the experience!

For my project I chose to do a portrait of a pilot.  I can’t say who it is just yet as it will be a gift next year.  Click any image below to view it larger.For now, here are some in progress photos:

It all starts with a log… and a basic idea of what it is that you want to carve… then there is a LOT of wood removal involved. This is where a heavy mallet, wide chisels, and a solid swing is important. If you are new to mallet carving one of the biggest personal obstacles to get by is removing too much wood. Everyone in the class had this fear, so I was in good company.

log-carving-portrait-by-Cindy-Chinn-01I changed direction with my design before it was too late and decided to carve a larger than life bust. I needed to redraw everything and remove more wood. I focused on the face first. At this stage everything is really just blocked in with no real definition. For some reason, everyone thought that it was me… wearing a beaver on my head 🙁

I hate carving something symmetrical, So this part took some extra work on my part! Now that the goggles are blocked in and the face is starting to look like something, it is time to get serious about the face that I have been avoiding.

log-carving-portrait-by-Cindy-Chinn-04With the helmet started it came time to address the eyes and add more detail.  I’m starting to have fun now!  😀  Jim helped me get the right eye started.


And this is how far that I got with my carving in the few days that I had to get it started. I think that it is a great foundation to something wonderful!


With the workshop over and back in my own studio, it’s time to re-evaluate my carving…

While in the class, the instructor and I took a little too much off the nose.  After MUCH internal discussion, I decided to remove the existing nose and replace it with new wood that I could reshape into a better nose.


I took a break from carving and used my wood burning kit to add an emblem to the scarf.

log-carving-portrait-by-Cindy-Chinn-08And this is where I’m at now.  I had some pencils to carve and saws to cut, so I’ve set my pilot aside for awhile to get caught up with orders.  Check back soon, I should have some new updates to share!


Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, leave a comment below or email me at Cindy@CindyChinn.com

1 thought on “Log Carving Portrait

Leave a Reply to Alexander Grabovetskiy Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *