Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the tag “Bark Carving”

Nearing Completion

I spent a few more hours on the cabin yesterday and probably won’t get at it too much today with some running around we need to do on a typical Saturday.  Beautiful day in Kingston today.

I carved some additional branches and another entranceway with stairs.  I added some roots wrapped around some loose boulders and rocks in the soil and I gave some of the bark of the tree texture with a small gouge chisel.  I’m looking forward to hollowing out in behind the windows to give it some additional depth.

A pretty quick carve and very enjoyable.  If you haven’t tried bark carving, give it a try.  I still like Peggy’s comment that it’s like doodling on a piece of paper with no firm plan in mind…if the bark looks like a particular item ( a branch, rock, window ), then that’s what you go with.



More Progress on the Cabin

I’ve now started on the tree that is supporting some portion of the cabin.  I have a few branches as well as the main trunk that all support some block and brick-work as part of the cabin structure.  I also included a few gremlin sized holes in the tree trunk that lead to passages to who knows where.

Also included is a waterfall.  I had added a waterfall in an earlier bark carving of the the Cottonwood Mill and liked it so much that I thought I’d do a second waterfall for the cabin.  The white of the bark and the ridges in the bark really look like a waterfall to me.  I added just a little cavity in the block-work to make it look like the water is originating from there.  I’m not sure exactly where all that water is coming from…but we won’t worry about that too much.

Hope that you are enjoying the photos.

Tree Top Cabin

I carved a bit more of the cabin this afternoon…on the patio…in the sunshine!  Nice and relaxing.

You can see an additional window, some stone block-work and a bit of a terrace with two tree trunks holding up the shingled roof above.  As I’m carving, I’m getting ideas for how to carve the large tree trunk that the cabin is perched upon.  I can picture some ladders and various entrances and exits that wind their way up the tree and into the cabin.  Should be fun.

Again, if you’re interested in carving bark you’ll enjoy the fun of just carving whatever comes into your head.  The bark can be rather fragile, so you’ll just want to ensure that you use a sharp knife and chisels and that as many of the cuts as possible be of a slicing nature rather than a pushed blade that could break off a piece of the bark.  No matter how careful you are, you will break off some small pieces of bark and you can either modify your carving and carve around the break, or use a bit of white glue to place the bark back into position.  I usually just modify what I had in mind for that particular piece that broke off.

A Long Weekend Project

Yep, it’s a long weekend in Canada.  Now that I’m recently retired it has a bit less impact, but fun just the same.  The holiday is actually Queen Victoria Day, which we used to call “fire-cracker day” when I was a kid because we got to light off fireworks and fire-crackers in the backyard.  I still have a faint scar on one of my fingers from a fire-cracker gone bad!  It’s a holiday that’s been around for a long time, starting back in 1854 on Queen Victoria’s 35th birthday and before the Confederation of Canada.  Not planning any fireworks in the backyard but I’ll work on my bark carving on and off through the weekend.

The cabin is coming along with the roof pretty much completed.  I chose to combine some shingles with a couple sections of thatched roofing.  It’s looking pretty good.  I’ll need to get my thinking cap on to complete the rest, but I’m picturing some wood structures, some large stone block work and at least one large tree trunk.  We’ll see what turns up.

Cottonwood Cabin

And now for a bit of a departure from caricature carvings and a return to bark carving.  I’ve completed two other bark carvings that you can check out in previous posts…the Cottonwood Mill and Castle Cottonwood.

This one is already taking on the characteristics of a cabin in the woods.  In this case, the cabin is actually going to be on the woods in that it’ll be on the top of an old rotting tree surrounded by rock cliffs.  Hey…you take a look at the bark and try to imagine what’s inside it’s basic shape…and that’s what was there.

I should mention, that the “back” of the bark, or the piece against the tree, is first planed down a bit to get a flat rather than a concave surface so that when it’s finished as a wall hanging the carving sits flat against the wall.

Peggy looked over my shoulder as I started this one yesterday and came up with a pretty good description on how I approach bark carvings when she said “It’s like doodling.”  And I guess it is…you start with a basic idea and just start carving one piece and let that lead you to what the next piece is going to look like.  No prior sketch or hard plan, just an idea that evolves as you carve and as you clumsily break pieces off ( Cottonwood bark is a bit fragile ).

So, given that, I started with just roughing in the roof line and a few doors and windows.  Today I’ve done a bit more on the cedar roof shingles and detailed in one of the dormer windows.  Kind of mindless, relaxing carving and a break from pulling weeds.

Ottawa Carving Show

I attended the Ottawa Carving Show this past weekend hosted by the Outaouais Carving Club.  Again, this show was well attended and approximately 180 carvings were entered in all classes.  The event attracts many competitors from Eastern Ontario and Quebec who bring along outstanding carvings.  A very friendly gathering with an opportunity to meet some really nice people.

I entered my two bark carvings along with Cpl. Duncan Sowerby.  Registration was Friday evening so I made the quick trip to Ottawa and again on Sunday afternoon to spend some time taking in the show.  The club always puts on a great prize presentation at the end of the show on Sunday and has a lot of fun with the process.  You would never guess by their light-heartedness that so much gruelling work had gone in to making the event such a success.



I was very happy to take away a 1st Place in Class and 3rd Best in Division for the “Castle Cottonwood” and a 2nd Place in Class for the “Cottonwood Mill”.  But what really knocked my socks off was a 1st in Class, 2nd in Division and a 2nd Best in Show for the Corporal.  He seemed to be standing a little taller…I know that I was!

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Be sure to check out the Outaouais Club’s website ( I’ve included it in the links to the right of this page ) and plan to attend this event next year.  I’ll upload all of the photos that I took at the event on the Tributesinwood Flickr Photos link soon.

Pickering Woodcarving Show

I enjoyed attending the Pickering, Ontario, “Magic in Wood” carving show this past weekend. The show appeared to have about 350 carvings in competition and many more on display.

I’ve included a few pictures of the carvings, both on display and in the competition, in the Tributesinwood Flickr Photo album link to the right of this page. I also took a few videos which I’ll post shortly.

I was very pleased that Cpl. Duncan Sowerby earned a 1st Place in Intermediates Caricatures and my two bark carvings, Castle Cottonwood and Cottonwood Mill, earned a 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Bark Carving category.

The owners of the bark carvings ( Mom and Emily ) will be getting their carvings back but should not expect to get the ribbons!




Castle Cottonwood is Finished!

The castle is now finished!  My Dad would have got a kick out of this carving.  About 25 years ago I gave my Dad a carving for Father’s Day and here we are on Father’s Day again and I’ve finished a carving for my daughter.  I miss my Dad a lot and wish he was here to enjoy this hobby with me.

You’ll notice a few additions from the last  post on this carving.  An additional tree has sprouted to hold up the castle turret.  I’ve carved out some windows, a little waterfall that is filling the moat and added some interesting items like the roots on the one tree wrapping around some rocks.  Just above the moat is a network of caves…perhaps, secret entrances to the castle!

This carving will hang in my daughter’s new house by the end of this week.




Castle Cottonwood

Had a nice piece of Cottonwood bark delivered to me the other day.  Once again, like the Cottonwood Mill that I carved earlier, the bark was generally white and light grey.  This time, instead of being rounded in shape, it was much more angular and I had to take a few days to look at it to decide what it was going to be.


I’ve been wanting to carve up another bark carving for my Mom and my Daughter ( Peggy kept the Cottonwood Mill and it’s already hanging on our wall ).  As I looked at the wood, it felt like a castle of some sort was in there, and as my daughter is a big fan of “Game of Thrones”, the decision was made.

Here’s the progress that I’ve made so far.



Those trees on either side are “holding up” some part of the castle structure.  They were particularly fun to do.  I’ll be carving some caves at the bottom of the carving.  The waterfall that I’ve left will feed a little moat.

I have a few more photos on the Flickr Photos in my Links off to the right of this page.

Bark Worse than Bite?

Ha!  When I was in Niagara, Stephan Forrin’s wood carvings got me interested in Cottonwood Bark carvings.  Stephan was good enough to spend some time with me explaining the basics of carving this fairly fragile bark.

I should have taken a picture of the bark before I started carving, but I guess I was just too anxious to get going.  As you can see, this particular piece of Cottonwood Bark had a lot of white on the outside.  I started with a little cottage on the top, grass thatched roof with some cedar shingles beneath and then, finally, a pine planked cottage.


Next, I got the idea that a bit of a spiral staircase would look good leading up to the door.  Then, the more I looked at it, I thought that the white looked like water, so, I carved a little water wheel at the bottom and trimmed away the white portions of the bark to look like a waterfall.

It’s coming along quite nicely, and a lot quicker than an involved caricature.  I think I’m going to need more bark…


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