2007 Santa Carving Contest – Grand Prize Winner

Best Carving Design Contest Archive

2007 Santa Carving Contest – Grand Prize Winner

Judges Notes: Mark Aker’s Santa succeeds at telling a story. You can almost hear the snow crunching under Santa’s boots as he hauls his freshly-cut tree in from the woods. Mark’s confidence in his skills shows in this carving; the clean, deliberate cuts make the simple lines of the overall design work. Although the piece appears to be relatively simple, note Mark’s great attention to detail. The texturing in the beard gives it a soft, natural look, and each button is accompanied by realistic folds of the fabric around it. The footprints in the snow link the base with the rest of the carving. The thin washes of paint leave no doubt that this piece is carved from wood. In all, Mark’s carving is a fresh and original version of the classic Santa.


“I just took my inspiration from Santa,” Mark said. “I had an image of Santa dragging a tree out of the woods, and carved it.”

It took Mark about 20 hours to carve the Santa, and five hours to carve the tree and base, both of which were carved separately. The piece measures 9″ x 9″ x 12″.

Mark uses acrylic paints thinned with water and spends several hours on the painting stage. He mixes his paints in an ice cube tray and usually adds one to two drops of paint to two tablespoons of water. After painting the carving, Mark dips it into a mixture of boiled linseed oil and a bit of raw sienna oil paint. After the oil and paint mixture dries, he seals the carving with Feed-N-Wax.

Mark currently lives in Lexington, SC, and has been carving since 1985. He enjoys carving Santas, caricatures and wood spirits. Mark was first introduced to carving while living in Illinois. He was lucky enough to be the neighbor of the late Joe Wannamaker. Joe, a former member of the Caricature Carvers of America, taught Mark the basic skills, and inspired a love of woodcarving.

The Grand Prize Winner received a prize package worth more than $1,600.

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