Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Learn by Doing

The “Learn by Doing” crowd at the recent Magic in Wood Show asked me if I would provide them with a few close-ups of the little hound-in-the-gift-bag carving that they started at the show.  Here are a few additional photos, below, for this group and any others that might want to try this project.  Of course, you can look back in these posts to find a few more photos of the little dog.

Click on the image to make it bigger…

Magic in Wood Show

This past weekend, we all enjoyed the Magic in Wood competition and show in Pickering, Ontario.  We battled Toronto traffic to drop Paul off at Emily’s house for a couple of day’s visit and then Peggy and I returned to Pickering for the two day show.  I set up a few of my carvings along with some information on the Ontario Woodcarvers Association website (, Peggy volunteered in the kitchen and Emily and Paul visited on the Sunday of the show before we headed back to Kingston.

This was the show that I had the chance to lead a small group in the carving of the little Basset-in-a-Bag idea that you saw earlier.  I think that it went pretty well and I’m looking forward to seeing a photo of the finished carvings from the participants.  Next year, I think I’ll prepare just a single aspect of caricature carving as the two hour period we were given wasn’t nearly enough to finish even the roughed-out version that I  had provided.  Plus, the number of rough-outs that I could complete limited the class size and I know that there were several others that would have joined the class had I enough rough-outs.

Here are a few photos of some of the carvings that were displayed at the show.  Just click on the photo to make it bigger.  If you can make it to this show next year, you won’t be disappointed.

A Busy Summer

Well, this has been a busy and productive summer and it looks like the fall will be at least as busy.  Right now I have most of the carpets removed from the first floor of our home and will be getting the sub-floors ready for installing some hardwood in a few weeks.  Following that, I have a fence that I really need to fix up a bit before winter…and that’ll be a bit of a big project as well.  I do have the Magic in Wood Show and Competition coming up in mid-October to look forward to, but I don’t think that I’ll get much major carving in prior to that…other than the roughing-out of the little Bassets that I’ll use for leading the Learn by Doing portion of the show.

Although I haven’t moved too far along on my artistic duties this summer, my talented daughter, Emily, sure has.  She decided to try her hand at water colours and has struck another great talent.  Take a look at the paintings she’s produced.  Quite a gal.



Six Bassets and a Sheltie

Rosie and I have been in the shop this week.  In October, I’ll be leading a Learning by Doing session at the Magic in Wood Competition and Show in Pickering.  I’ll be helping people create the little Basset-in-a-gift-bag that you saw in an earlier post.  I’m not sure how many people ( if any ) will sign up for the session at this point, but I now have five versions of the little guy cut out on the bandsaw.  I’m planning to rough them out a bit with a Foredom tool just so that people have a head start on the carving.  I only have two or three hours with the group so I think the rough out will be appreciated.


I haven’t been too active lately with my carving, other than this preparation work.  I’m hoping that the fall period will open up some more time for carving.  I definitely have lots of ideas and plans…

A Change of Plans

From an earlier post, you’ll remember the little Basset-in-a-Box.  This little guy is intended as a “Learning by Doing” project at the upcoming Magic in Wood Competition and Show held in Pickering, Ontario this October.  The basic idea is to have several carvers come up with a carving that can be accomplished in about two hours and invite small groups to join them in completing a project of their own.  Registration will be on the site shortly for all of the different projects.  I was asked to lead a carving session for a Basset carving and this is what I’m planning to bring.

Actually, because we only have a couple of hours in the carving session, I’m bringing a “rough-out” of the carving for each participant that will look something like this…


From that roughed in version, the hope is to get everyone within a couple of hours to this stage…


Beyond that, I’m planning to leave some instructions and photos with the participants so, if they choose, they can go home and paint the figure along the lines that I’ve painted mine.

Now, about the change in plans.  Well, although I started out with the idea that the pup would be in a box, it struck me along the way that it would either be a pretty big pup or a pretty small box.  So, I decided that the box needed to become a bag…a gift bag.

So, come on, who wouldn’t want to receive a howling hound in a surprise gift bag?  Really.



I’ve been asked to lead a carving session at the fall Magic in Wood carving show and competition held in Pickering, Ontario.  This session is part of the “Learning by Doing” program where carvers sign up to take part in one of a variety of two hour carving projects during the show.   For some reason, it was suggested that I take on a Basset Hound carving…

Here’s a few photos of what I’m planning to do.  I’ll finish this carving with some acrylic paint in the next little while such that it depicts the little hound popping out of an opened gift box or moving box.  The painting portion will have to be done by the participants outside of the two hour session.

I first cut out of basswood the pencil drawing that I made.

Then, with a Foredom tool equipped with a very aggressive “Typhoon” bit, I roughed out the general shape of the carving.  My plan is to provide the participants with this “rough-out” to begin their carving.  I thought that this would give people ample time to detail their carving within the two hour session, yet still have the opportunity to do a lot of carving.















Then with smaller gouges and a carving knife, I began drawing out the details of the ears, paws and head.  The grain runs from top to bottom which makes it fairly easy to carve away the excess material.  You can do the carving with just a knife, however, it is much easier to get the sweeping curves of this little sculpture using gouges.


With some more attention to the detail and, again, using gouges and knives, I undercut the ears and around the paws to a greater extent.  I added squinted eyes rather than round eyes as the little dog is howling his glee in meeting his new owner…or, maybe just because he’s finally out of the box!  Of course, the squinted eyes are easier to carve quickly but the individual carver can change that if they like.  I plan to bring some reference photos for people to use so they can add details of their own based on their carving experience.

I’ll add another post in the next few days of the box lid that will be a separate piece propped up against the base of the box.

Running a session like this is a first for me, so if you have some feedback or advice for me I would appreciate hearing about that.  Although the “sign-up” registration for “Learning by Doing” is not on the Ontario Wood Carvers’ website just yet, I’m the webmaster for that site ( ) and plan to get that up on the site in August.

Cottonwood Treehouse

We’re back from a quick vacation in Nova Scotia where we had a wonderful time and ate far too much seafood.  And now that I’m home, I had to continue working through the Cottonwood bark that I have on stock.

Here’s a little treehouse with the tree trunk winding under and through the little dwelling.


Cottonwood Lighthouse

Ok…so, this is the last of the Cottonwood carving for a little while…but, I absolutely needed to do a lighthouse…


Cottonwood Bark Treehouse

Happy Canada Day!…149 years old and counting.

I made this treehouse for my friends who picked up all of the Cottonwood bark from their cottage property for me.  This particular piece had a nice split nature to it and I thought it would give it a nice look.



These little carvings come together pretty quickly and I really should have had my camera at the ready to capture of few more “in progress” shots.
















I left a bit more bark than I usually do and I think that it really enhanced the carving.  When it was finished, I gave it one light coat of satin urethane on the carved sections, which tends to darken things up and left the bark natural.

I hadn’t realized that Cottonwood is in the Poplar family of trees although the size of the tree and the coarseness of the bark is definitely different than any of the Poplars that I’ve seen in Ontario.

Cottonwood Villa

Last fall my neighbour brought me a basket of Cottonwood bark from a tree at his cottage.  I didn’t realize that there were Cottonwood trees in Ontario.  The bark is a bit different from the same tree bark that I’ve carved from western Canada, but the general “carve-ability” of the bark is the same.

I cut two short segments from one piece of bark and, after planing the inside surface flat, I glued them together so that I could get an “in-the-round” carving out of it.  The inside of the bark is hollowed out so that the window openings have the impression of having some depth to them.  Next time I do this, I’m going to temporarily glue the halves together so that I can separate them easily after I’ve finished carving.  This separation will allow me to hollow out the sections near the windows a lot faster ( and easier ) than I did this one.

It’s a nice little carving that can sit on an end table.  Just click on the photo, below, to make it bigger.

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