Carving a Nuthatch at John C. Campbell Folk School

During May 2010, Jim took a woodcarving class at John C. Campbell Folk School. Instructor for the class was Dan Abernathy. He carved the white-breasted nuthatch shown here. He wanted to carve a nuthatch as there are several of the chatty little birds that can often be seen scurrying about the rough bark of maple trees at the Brown House.

Nuthatch bird carving
Nuthatch bird carving

Tupelo wood was used for the carving as it seems to be smoother following carving with power tools. Following the carving, Jim used a burning pen to draw in feather patterns that can be seen on the head and breast above. Glass eyes give a life-like look. Acrylic paints approximate the colors. Some additional work remains to be done on painting feather patterns on the bird's wings. Jim finds painting to be as complex as carving the bird to a lifelike size and shape.

The instructor brought a casting model to class that was used to obtain correct measurements. Length and shape of bill as well as eye placement are critical to make the carving look lifelike. A carving made by the instructor and photographs of real birds also proved helpful during the painting process.

A piece of a slab containing nice diamond-pattern bark wood was chosen for the mount. Nuthatches go down the trees looking for seeds and bugs deposited in top crevices of bark. Often birds and animals will store seeds and the like in these recesses for future use.

Nuthatch bird carving