Saturday, August 14, 2010

Ilsa: The Wicked She-Witch (Cypress Knee Carving)

 It's been a while since I've driven my knives into a cypress knee but lately I've had the urge to pick up a couple of them. The first project "Swamp Man Sam" can be found a couple of postings back here.

As seen in the pictures to the left you can now meet Ilsa, the wicked she-witch which is from a small 11" tall cypress knee.
In the beginning I had no idea that it would become a green faced witch because it started out as a woodspirit face. Not only was it intended to be a woodspirit but this particular cypress knee was given to me a year ago by another carver who thought that he'd messed it up and I tended to agree. He was hoping that I could somehow save it but I didn't have time to work with it at the moment.

That time finally came last week when I picked it up again. The eye-wells were deeper that I would have preferred and the mouth was offset a bit. From the pictures to the right you can see where I began to enclose the face thus defining some shape into it.

Yes, it was well on it's way to being a woodspirit face but while having lunch one afternoon with one of my woodshop groups, one particular kid said that he saw the makings of a witch more so than a woodspirit so that caused me to study the shape and lumps of the wood a little closer as I began to agree. I then began transforming the mouth area into an uglier and toothless witch-friendly look and chip by chip the idea took hold. I cut in a lot of wrinkles on the forehead and lower face then completed "Ilsa" with a fine bulging mold on her chin. I then shaped up her tall pointed witch hat by using the natural shape of the cypress knee.

Ilsa has been another fun woodcarving project. Not only fun but this has been one of those carvings that sort-of found itself. It began with an effort to save another carvers failed attempt, then it was enhanced by one of my students ideas. The lesson here is to never look at any carving as "lost" but instead as an opportunity to see what you can still find in it. Open up you senses, your mind, and ask those around you for ideas. It's amazing what you'll come up with sometimes.


  1. Thanks for the kind encouragement! This has most definitely been one of my proudest carving accomplishments this year... despite how ugly the old witch is. :)