Patriotic Bear

eNews: Strop Talk / Patterns & Projects

Patriotic Bear

Celebrate the stars and stripes with a droll version of Uncle Sam

By Mike Shipley

As you can see, even the forest has its own Uncle Sam. If you prefer, though, you could choose a different color scheme and paint the bear to resemble Abe Lincoln, a leprechaun, or even a bridegroom.

Carving the Bear

I carve most of this caricature bear with a knife, but I use a couple of V-tools to outline the clothes, shoes, and hat. I use a 1/8″ (3mm) #11 micro veiner to carve the eyes.

I paint most of this piece with thin washes of acrylic paint. I usually thin 1 part paint with 3 parts water to create a light coat that you can see the wood grain through. I apply the paint with circular blending strokes to keep it even. Use unthinned paint for the eyes, buttons, and stars. To make the stars, load a toothpick tip with paint and dot the wood. Then, drag the paint out from the center of the dot to make a five-pointed star. You can practice on scrap wood, but stars don’t need to be perfect.

To antique the carving, fill a large jar with linseed oil and add a 1″ (25mm)-long ribbon of raw umber oil paint. Mix thoroughly, and then dip the carving into the jar from the top and the bottom. Allow the excess stain to drip off, and wipe away any remaining stain with paper towels. (The stain-soaked paper towels are a fire hazard.) Allow the stain to dry overnight.




• Basswood, 2 1/2″ (64mm) thick: 3″ x 6″
(76mm x 152mm)

• Acrylic paint: coffee bean brown, white, tangerine orange, black, charcoal black, burnt umber, opaque red, navy blue, bright yellow

• Boiled linseed oil

• Raw umber oil paint


• Band saw

• Carving knife

• Detail knife

• V-tools: 5/32″ (4mm),
5/16″ (8mm), 3/8″ (10mm)

• #11 micro-veiner:
1/8″ (3mm)

• Paintbrushes: spotter, #2 shader, #4 shader,
#6 shader

• Toothpicks


About the Author

Mike Shipley of Dora, Mo., owns OCCTools with his wife, Sherry. The author of several books, Mike is also a popular carving instructor. For more of his work, visit


Get the Summer 2021 Issue

Purchase the Issue

For more articles like this, subscribe to Woodcarving Illustrated magazine.

Magazine Subscription
Plus! Get digital mini magazines in your e-mail between printed issues.

Comments are closed.