Wood Carvings by Mark Sheridan

Archive for the tag “cottonwood bark carving”

Lighthouse Bark Carving

I’ve done a few Cottonwood Bark carvings that have incorporated lighthouses and I think that this may be my fourth or fifth. On this one, I decided to use some Cottonwood Bark from the west coast that was considerably thicker than I’ve used in the past. It turned out that the bark was quite a bit harder than the one’s that I’ve carved so far, so I made good use of a Foredom tool with a Typhoon ( carbide ) bit for the initial roughing out.

Does this look like a lighthouse to you? You have to squint a bit…

The Typhoon bit is a very aggressive bit made up of multiple carbide “pins” that remove material in a hurry. If you ever try one out, be sure to protect your body, eyes, hands and arms with protective gear. I started with the hexagonal outline of the lighthouse and then followed up with a very shallow profile gouge to smooth things out. The horizontal planks were made with a combination of knives, gouges and a nail punch to imprint some “nail holes” where needed in the resulting siding. I left some wood to make a bit of a railing and then marked out and hollowed out the lighthouse lens and added some shingles to the lens house.

Then I just got carried away and forgot to take some more pictures along the way…sorry about that! I added some entrances and alcoves, some additional windows and a combination of wood columns and various size bricks and blocks that kept the structure solid on the rocks on which it was built. When you do this, just have fun with it.

I don’t try to make things too straight as the various odd angles just add to the interest in the wood. Keep your tools very sharp and try to slice the bark rather than use a blunt pushing action that could tear or break the bark. If you do break a bit of bark away, either carve around the void or just glue the piece back in place with some white carpenter’s glue.

I hollowed out the back of the carving at the window locations so that you could see through the windows. Once the carving is hanging on the wall, the hollowing just leaves a nice impression rather than being really light and open. For the first time, I epoxied an old lamp bulb inside the lens house. Nope…it doesn’t light!

Anywhere that was carved and where the bark was removed, I applied a single coat of clear satin polyurethane with a small brush. This coating automatically adds a nice softly darkened colour to the wood. I prefer to keep the polyurethane away from the uncut, “raw” bark as it darkens it a bit too much for my liking.

And here’s how it turned out…You should be able to click on the lower grouping of pictures to make them appear bigger.


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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