Happy Santa

eNews: Strop Talk / Holiday Carving

Happy Santa

The compact styling of this smiling fellow makes him an ideal project for beginners

By Tina Toney

This Happy Santa captures the essence of Jolly Old St. Nicholas. He has a straight-forward gaze, symmetrical pose, and his hands are tucked warmly into mittens, which makes this a great project for beginners. I’ve given him a simple coat and undergarment free of embellishments. Any extra decorative painting can be easily incorporated into the banded areas on the sleeves and hat. Simple textures and a basic paint scheme are easily reproduced, but combine to make a pleasant Santa full of holiday cheer. You may reduce or enlarge the pattern to suit the dimensions of your wood. Carve the Santa, using your tools of choice. To carve the Santa easier, attach your blank to a carver’s arm to have better control while carving.


This Santa has a very simple palette. The cheek color is enhanced using powdered pastels lightly applied with a soft-bristle brush. Don’t flip the brush or it will contaminate the surrounding mustache.

FACE: medium flesh with shading flesh applied in the shadowed areas. Santa red is washed over the cheeks.

EYES: uniform blue, lamp black pupil with white highlight.

BEARD & HAIR: antique white with snow white drybrushed across higher ridges.

UNDERGARMENT & BANDS: Paynes grey with lamp black band.

COAT: Napa red with lamp black shading.

FUR TRIM: buttermilk with white drybrushed across high spots.

BELT & MITTENS: lamp black with copper accent lines.

FINISH: If you use any powdered pastels for cheek colors, blow any loose powder off before sealing with acrylic matte spray. This piece is antiqued using Indian Sand Trewax Floor Paste Wax applied with an old soft toothbrush. Immediately use Clear Trewax Paste Wax to pull off the excess Indian Sand. You may work back and forth using the two waxes, until you are satisfied with the effect. Allow the wax to set about three minutes; then buff with a soft brush or an old soft tee shirt.



  • Basswood, 3″ (7.6cm) thick: x 3-1/2″  x 7-1/2″ (8.9 x 19.1cm)
  • Acrylic paints, such as DecoArt Americana: antique white, buttermilk, lamp black, medium flesh, Napa red, Payne’s gray, Santa red, shading flesh, snow white, uniform blue
  • Acrylic sealer, such as DecoArt Americana: matte
  • Trewax Floor Paste Wax: Indian sand/mahogany
  • Trewax Paste Wax: clear


  • Carving tools of choice
  • Soft brush
  • Clean cloth


About the Author

Tina has been woodcarving since 1981 when she took a personal enrichment class through her local community college. Tina has authored several books including Creative Christmas Carving and Easy Weekend Carving Projects.


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