Introduction: Create a Forest Spirit With the Help of Your Dremel Tools
This is an example of some traditional folk art - a "Wood Spirit" carved out of a branch in your spare time. When you're done, you can place him in your garden or next to your front door and he'll keep watch and drive away evil spirits.
"But I'm not an Artist." you say? Pish-posh. Everyone is an artist - they just have to find their medium. What better way than to try with a stick from your yard or one a neighbor gives you?
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Step 1: Don't Panic
You're going to be making some art. Don't Panic. Humans have been making art objects ever since we became human - one could say that it's our defining characteristic. I will help to guide you to making what some people call a Forest Spirit - a face in a stick of wood.
Step 2: Once You've Found Your Wood, Let's Get to It
For this step, I used my Dremel MultiMax with the semi-circular blade. I have started with a cedar branch my neighbor brought me from his farm. You really do want to use a softer wood, such as pine or cedar, if this is the first time you've done this.
What we're doing here is making some defining cuts for the top of his eye socket and his nose. As we would want to orient his face the long way with the stick, we're going to cut across it. Note how easily the blade sinks into the wood. The depth we cut will be the depth of his eyes under his protruding eyebrows. Don't worry about getting it perfect - this is Art and no-one but you and the wood knows how this is going to come out.
Step 3: Define His Nose and Start to Work Out His Cheeks
As this is hard to see, the photo on this step is what you end up with.
Sink another two stopping cuts into the wood to define his nose. For my man, he's going to have a narrow bridge of his nose up by his eyebrows (the top of his eye sockets) and a rather wide schnozz. You make one cut on each side of his triangular nose. If you need to mark your wood with a pencil to help you better imagine it and to make better cuts, please do so. You can always erase it later. You'll want to make these cuts deeper than you think. You have an entire stick to work with! Worst case, you toss it and get another stick, or cut it off and start over lower down on the original stick.
Once you have his nose defined, it's time to find where his eyes are as well as his cheeks. You can start to make this cut with the semi-circular blade on your MultiMax, but you'll find that there's only so much you can do in such a small space. I mounted the square woodworking blade to it and carefully and slowly used that to "waste" out the excess wood. I held the tool sideways and carefully presented the vibrating teeth to the surface. As cedar is a soft wood, this went quickly.
Step 4: Sometimes You Have to Stop and Start Over.
While I was wasting out the wood, some of the bark came off and I spied sawdust underneath of it. That is not normal. At the end of the sawdust, I saw some little legs, and when I poked them with my tool, they wriggled.
Throw that stick out! The last thing anyone needs is wood-eating beetles in their house.
This is where buying a basswood carving block from a local woodworking or craft store would have saved me some trouble, but I had more sticks.
Step 5: Just Like Starting Over
I grabbed a piece of Maple (don't do this - maple is quite hard!) and started my cuts over again. See the hole in his nose? Yes, a bug tunnel. Maybe that's the only one. This wood is considerably older than the one I got from my neighbor, so maybe it only has the one tunnel on it - I had split this in half about six months ago and there were no bugs in the wood.
Step 6: More Voids
As I started removing the wood, a lot of bark came with it, as it was hollow underneath, as wood shrinks as it dries.
The hole in his nose was bigger than I thought, and his nose suddenloy became a lot shorter.
Step 7: Here's Where the Nose Hole Went
At this point, he can have a snazzy dimple. (No, there didn't seem to be a beetle in this hole.)
Note that I've made a reverse triangle for his eye socket and part of his cheek.
Step 8: Two Eyes, a Nose, and the Beginnings of His Mouth
Every piece of wood is different - yours may not end up like mine. No two of mine look exactly alike either.
As you move to better define his eye sockets, either a chip-carving knife or a set of carving gouges will help you along. A traditionalist would use a whittling knife. Do remember to keep your tools sharp so you can make controlled cuts and do not cut towards your hands.
Step 9: Define His Cheeks, Maybe a Moustache, and a Beard or a Chin
This is where you get creative. A regular Dremel rotary tool with a spherical burr is tops for making his eyes - defined by a hole within the socket here. I gave him cheeks and a moustache.
Tradition suggests that you could mount him next to your door in order to keep evil spirits away, or you could put him someplace in your garden. As he weathers, he will become even more realistic, and will eventually return to the earth and perhaps will one day be a tree again.
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