"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hand-Carved Santas & Halloween Quilts

By mid-summer, I find myself yearning for Autumn; it's my absolute favorite time of year! Red and gold leaves crackling under my feet, cool crisp weather, pumpkins and hayrides, apple-picking, warm cozy sweaters and Harvest-colored quilts, fragrant smells of fresh hot apple cider and pumpkin spice, and of course, Halloween!

Inspired by my love of the Fall, combined with my love of Christmas, I carved the figures below. Some sold on Ebay and some were gifts. It warms my heart to know that people are out there decorating their homes with something I created with my own two hands.

Here is a miniature Santa sitting on top of a jack o'lantern. He's only about 4 inches tall. The smaller the wood, the more challenging it is to carve. Sometimes it takes as long to carve a 4 inch Santa as it does a 9 inch one.

One of my favorite carvings ever! This one was very hard to let go! He stands 9 inches tall and is wrapped in a Halloween quilt.

This is a very naughty little boy using his mom's best quilt for a Halloween costume! I'm sure he's going to be in for a few "treats" when his mom finds out.

This 9 inch Harvest Santa was the first one I ever attempted. I had such a good time carving out the folds in the quilt, I knew I had to make more!

Another version of Santa wrapped in an Autumn quilt.

Carving is one of the greatest joys in my life. Unfortunately, due to my hands and fingers swelling, I don't get to carve as much as I'd like. For over 20 years now, I've seen every type of doctor and specialist, yet none have been able to help. Despite mounds of blood tests, MRIs, x-rays, and even getting volts of electricity shot up my arm, everything still turns out normal. Yet sure enough, every few weeks they'll swell up like balloons, so much that I can't even close my hand or make a fist.

So now, I try to work a little bit of carving into mixed-media art. It gives my hands a rest, yet still allows me to do what I love. Plus, I get the opportunity to work with other fun mediums like sculpting clay, felting wool, and painting.

It's like the old saying goes: When life hands you lemons, stick'em in your bra. Can't hurt. Might help.


  1. That is not how I know the lemon saying but I like yours better!!! I cannot believe how awesome you are at carving and PAINTING! I hate that is kills your hands at times. You have a gift that goes way beyond crafting! Who taught you to do that anyway?

    Yours Santa's are gorgeous. I want you to have someone take pictures of you carving from beginning to end so I can see your process! That would be so fun to see! ~Shelley O.

  2. Oh my goodness...an artist is in the midst. Your carvings are awesome. Oh...the Halloween one especially. I'm all about Autumn too right now. You are the brave one to admit it!
    Sun is out in Washington and I'd rather kick a few autumn leaves around. Here's a weired confession about me...I love to walk in our old cemetary in the Autumn...the ground is a patchwork of leaves and color...
    Bless you dear heart. Please send me your address so I can mail you a tag I made for the June Cupcake walk. Email to Matthew1039amen@yahoo.com

  3. These are wonderful and you are very talented! It makes my hands hurt just looking at them since in my older years I now have arthritis and my hands get so sore just from painting! Love your lemon saying!

  4. Thanks so much!

    Shelley, I haven't carved a Santa in months and have been truly missing it. Maybe I can take pictures of the process for you. That sounds like fun!

    I'm basically self-taught. I started by buying a Santa Claus book and dull knives (I didn't realize they were dull!) After four blood-stained Santas were made (never carve with a dull knife!), surprisingly, I still loved it. I joined a carving club where a few of the old-timers showed me #1 how to sharpen my knives #2 a few basic cuts. From there, it was lots of books, practice, and finding woodchips in my bra! (That was one of my first posts on this blog!)

    If you want to see or meet other great woodcarvers, go to woodcarvingillustrated.com. I met so many wonderful people, who gladly gave me advice and totally encouraged me to continue.

  5. You have such a gift! They are all so beautiful. I hope they can figure your pain out someday, praying that they do!

  6. Hey Jill...It's me again!
    Got your email and I'll send my addy back soon to you!
    Check out my blog today...fun playing cards with you...tee hee. Happy Friday! Waving to you from Washington!

  7. Jill, I had no idea you carved too! Wow, just wow!

    Have you ever tried wearing copper bracelets? I had some wrist issues years ago and found some copper bangles, I couldn't believe the difference they made. Gotta love that it's not invasive, relatively cheap, and old world remedy-esque!

  8. Wow. Your harvest Santas are gorgeous. Not only are you a talented carver, the painted detail is amazing too. I want to know when you have your etsy shop open. I collect Santas but I’m only looking for unusual one-of-a-kind Santas now. And yours certainly are that.