Monthly woodcarving news, hints and tips.
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Mary May's School of Traditional Woodcarving
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I love this time of year for so many reasons.

I often get to spend time with beloved family members that live far away and I usually have the opportunity to "play" a little more. The amazing South Carolina weather usually reaches into the 60s, and sometimes even in the 70s. I simply love the festive, holiday atmosphere that only comes at Christmas time.

James Island County Park hosts a "Holiday Festival of Lights" each Christmas season with millions of multi-colored lights displayed in mesmerizing designs - some dancing, some blinking, but all dazzling. As you drive or walk through the park in the evening enjoying the glitter of colorful lights, it's easy to get lost in a dreamy world of winter wonder (see photo above). Even without snow! Here is a youtube video I found from last year's show. Enjoy!

After that experience, it's easy to get lost in the Christmas spirit. I love to spend time in my workshop carving unique decorations and hand-made gifts for loved ones while traditional Christmas Carols play gently in the background. This year is no exception, as I have enjoyed getting a jump-start on Christmas lessons to hopefully give you enough time to carve and play before December 25 comes!

And to add to the festive spirit, I am giving away a Premium Full-Year Membership to a lucky winner ($159.99 value). Simply add your name to the raffle here and we will be drawing a lucky winner on December 9 (see more information below). 

Upcoming Lessons for December:

Carving a Poinsetta
Scheduled for December 1 & 8 

The first episode has just been added! (Yes, I know that is is scheduled for December 1, but I always make sure each lesson is active the Wednesday before)

To continue in the festive, Christmas Spirit, I have carved the familiar and colorful plant that often adorns our homes during the Christmas Season - the Poinsettia Plant.

This lesson has 2 episodes, and shows techniques such as how to carve multiple overlapping leaves and how to give life and movement to each leaf. And while you are carving this, you can refer to a real plant, since they are plentiful this time of year!

Watch the introduction video here.
Premium Members watch the first episode here.

Carving Oak Leaves and Acorns
Scheduled for December 15, 22, & 29  

Oh, to carve life into leaves! I would suggest going out into the yard and find some of those dried, curled up leaves (if the snow hasn't smothered them yet), bring them into your workshop, and carve them - just as they are! As the leaves dry in the autumn, they twist and curl in such wonderful shapes. And even if it takes months to finish a carving, if the real leaves are dry enough, your "model" won't change shape!

This lesson shows the process of carving many shapes and hollows into the surface of curling, twisting oak leaves, along with a sweet little design of 3 acorns.

Lessons Added in November:

Carving a Pomegranate Design 

This lesson shows how to carve this delicate, stylized pomegranate branch design in mahogany. Lots of unique twisting, turning leaves and flowers.

Watch the introduction video here
Premium members begin watching the full lesson here.

You can also purchase this lesson here.

Carving Snow Flakes in a Cutting Board - FREE TO ALL MEMBERS

As a Christmas gift to all members of my online school, this lesson is available to ALL - both free members and premium members.

By only using one carving tool - the 4mm v-chisel - I show how to carve symmetrical snowflake designs into a pine cutting board. It may seem like a very simple project, but it does have its challenges. There are certain things that need to be considered such as which lines to cut first, what direction to cut in order to achieve the right effect, how to prevent certain parts of the wood from breaking?

Watch the introduction video here
ALL members watch the lesson here (you will need to be logged in) 

Another Christmas lesson that is available to Free Members as well as Premium Members is the Christmas Candle Lesson.

Carving a Madonna and
Child Christmas Ornament

I love the Art Nouveau style! This design is one that my son and video editor, Caleb, designed. It is a Christmas tree ornament of a sweet, gentle Mary cradling the baby Jesus, carved in mahogany.

Introduction video - Available to everyone
Premium Members watch the full lesson here 

You can also purchase this lesson here.

An Easy Source for Carving Wood


One of the biggest challenges in the woodcarving world is to find sources of good carving wood - especially basswood. One of the only places you can actually walk into a store and purchase carving wood is Woodcraft Supply (we only have one store in South Carolina and it's 3-1/2 hours away from me).

I have always known that craft and hobby stores supply wood for projects such as basswood and pine and recently I had an opportunity to pick through what they had available.

What I discovered in Micheal's was very exciting! Bird houses, picture frames, boxes, cutting boards (see snowflake lesson above), plaques, and simple, flat pieces of basswood. Many of these items were made in white pine, or some lighter "mystery" wood that is similar to balsa (not the best for carving), but for an easy source of carving wood, the possibilities are endless! They also have some great coupons now if you go their website. Check out their basswood products here.  Or their various wood products here. Or better than that, go into the store and actually touch them! But be careful - I came home with about 15 different experimental pieces. It's easy to get carried away! 

Christmas Give-Away

Sign up here to add your name for a chance to 
win a FREE Premium Full-Year Membership!


$159.99 value!

The only requirement is that you are a registered member of my online school (Free or Premium). Register for free if you are not yet a member.

Drawing will take place December 9, 12:00pm EST
Merry Christmas!

This month's FREE template is of a Christmas Star 

Click here for a printable PDF file.

There is a one episode lesson that shows how to carve this Christmas tree ornament in walnut.

Watch the introduction video here.
Premium Members watch the lesson here.

Purchase the lesson here.

My book on 

Carving the Acanthus Leaf

has been in Chris Schwarz' hands (Lost Art Press) for a few months, and I recently received back the first edit. I'm happy to say that there were not massive amounts of red marks and I'll be honest - I really didn't know what to expect. The next step is book design and layout - and then more editing. My guess is much of the detailed editing will be done after it has been put into the final "look", as it will make more sense with pictures, drawings, and text together in their correct places.

At least he didn't come back with
"no... sorry. You will have to start the book over"

Check out the following blog posts at Lost Art Press:

If you have not signed up to receive my book newsletter (and also access to the Acanthus Leaf VIP lounge), please sign up here. You will have access to all previous newsletters I wrote as the book progressed, links to blog posts, access to occasional FREE stuff, and latest news and updates about the book. 

Here are links to some earlier newsletters (there are 14 total and once you sign up to the newsletter, you will have access to the VIP lounge and to all previous newsletters):

Newsletter #1
Newsletter #5

Newsletter #10

Basic Architectural Carving Class
Savannah, Georgia
December 2, 3 & 4


There are still spaces available for a carving class I will be teaching as Savannah Technical College next weekend. Check out the details here

Great price and they supply the tools!

I have recently been using Instagram more than any other social media to share photos of carvings.

Click on the Link below to see some of the latest adventures! 

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