Holiday Carving / Patterns & Projects

Ornaments with Attitude

By Bob Yancey

This year, I had a lot of fun adding faces to traditional Christmas objects, like stockings and candles. I made sure to give these caricatures some attitude! With a little pen work, it’s easy to customize these pieces with names, dates, or funny sayings.

Carving the Ornaments

These ornaments are easy to carve. As you carve the nose, thin it from bottom to top. Carve the eyes with a 1/32″ (1mm) #11 gouge and a V-tool. To make the bags under the eyes, lay the V-tool on its side and carve along the bottom. To add texture to the toe and heel of the stocking, I use a power-engraving tool (the vibrating type used to mark metal and plastic).

To carve the candle ornament, round the sides of the candle from top to bottom. Taper the bottom of the base from the under side of the rim, and
drill a hole in the handle with a Forstner bit. Carve a circle around the hole and the rim with the V-tool.

Painting the Ornaments

Dampen the face with an atomizer filled with water. Apply flesh-tone paint to the face. While it is still wet, apply red to the nose and cheeks; blend the red into the flesh tone. Paint the top of the stocking white, and then paint the rest of the stocking any color. Paint the candle flame yellow, and blend the candle color with the flesh tone. Paint the iris and pupil; use a cut-off toothpick to add a white highlight dot. Add decorative dots and star bursts using a 1/8″ (3mm)-diameter dowel. Use a pen, like Hunt’s extra-fine round point, to add a message.

After the paint dries, spray on a coat of Deft satin finish. Attach a small screw eye to the top. Sign and date the back of the carving.


Basswood, 1/2″ (13mm) thick: assorted sizes
Sandpaper: Abradenet 80, 120 grits; automotive wet/dry 220 grit
Acrylic paint: flesh tone, red, white, gold, black (and other colors based on carving)
Pen: Hunt’s extra-fine round point #22 or Pigma Micron .05 archival ink
Finish, such as Deft: satin
Screw eye, small: 1 per ornament

#9 gouges: 3/16″ (5mm), 9/32″ (7mm)
#11 gouge: 1/32″ (1mm)
V-tool: small
Power-engraving tool
Atomizer bottle filled with water
Dowel: 1/8″ (3mm) diameter (to make plain dots)

CLICK HERE to download the article and patterns.


Read Handcarved Christmas (Best of WCI) for more information. Giving a handcarved Christmas ornament or gift is as much fun as it is to make one. Includes projects for caricature ornaments, whittled pencils, a folk art tree topper whittled pencils, and more. The book is available for $19.95 plus S&H at

CLICK HERE to see more great projects from Woodcarving Illustrated Holiday (Issue 69). CLICK HERE to purchase the issue.



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