Snazzie Designz

Design, And Everything Design Related

Category : Wood Carving

Handmade American Kestrel Bas Relief Carving

This is a handmade, pyrographed (wood burned) and hand carved American kestrel carved from limewood (basswood). It is bas-relief carving carved with hand chisels on the limewood which was cut to shape using a scroll saw. It has a flat back making it suitable to be mounted on a wall.

Handmade American Kestrel Pyrograph and Carving by snazzie-designz

Below you can see a work in progress picture of the kestrel, already cut out with the scroll saw and with the pyrography (wood burning) and carving started but not yet finished.

Handmade American Kestrel Pyrograph and Carving by snazzie-designz



Bear Carving Final - Pyrography Colour and Varnish Complete

A bear carved (about an inch deep in parts) into Canadian wood, and then shaded and outlined with pyrography (wood burning). Colour was then added to give the water and background a bit of variation. The bear shading is all done through pyrography (wood burning), but I added a very thin wood stain to tint it a slightly more reddish in colour to make it more realistic.

I’ve included work in progress photos of how the piece was done from start to finish below.

Blank Canadian Wood Before Carving

Blank Canadian Wood Before Carving

Bear carving - Beginning of the pyrographed outlines

Bear carving – Beginning of the pyrographed outlines.

Bear Carving - Pyrography outlines complete and waterfall carved

Bear Carving – Pyrography outlines complete and waterfall carved.

Bear Carving - Pyrograhphed (wood burned) outlines and shading

Bear Carving – Pyrographed (wood burned) outlines and shading of the bear.

Carving and pyrography completed

Carving and pyrography completed, except for the background mountains which I added in at the end.

Bear Carving - Carving pyrography and colour complete

Carving pyrography (wood burning) and colour complete, but not yet varnished.

Bear Carving Final - Pyrography Colour and Varnish Complete

Bear Carving Final – Pyrography Colour and Varnish Complete




The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Top by snazzie-designz

Harry Wells (Aldwarke) and I have collaborated on a number of projects now and usually my talented collaborator makes marvelous wooden pieces (frames, boxes etc) and I have the great joy of decorating them with pyrography (wood burning).

This collaboration was slightly different. What many people may not realise is that not only is Aldwarke a master craftsman, but is also a beautiful writer and has an anthology of delightful and insightful stories and poems. It was within this literary treasure trove that I discovered “The Covenant”. This story was so inspirational to me, that I knew straight away that this was the perfect story to decorate this magical piece of wood.

Do yourself a favour and read this beautiful story in full Aldwarke’s Anthology blog and you too will understand how fitting the story and the wood are to each other.

The Covenant Pyrograph and Carving by snazzie-designz


The Covenant Pyrograph and Carving Zoom 01 by snazzie designz

The Covenant Pyrograph and Carving Zoom 03 by snazzie designz


It all began with a magical slice of pine wood, from a fallen pine tree in the sacred site of Monasterboice, Ireland. The wooden slice measures 1.6 x 0.5 metres (5’3” x 1’7”). After 2 years of looking at it sitting in my kitchen waiting for just the right piece of inspiration to do justice to this very special slice of wood, it finally hit me.

There were a number of new challenges for me on this project. This immense slice of wood is by far the biggest single piece of wood I’ve ever worked with, and I didn’t have a workbench big enough to accommodate it, so I had to make a temporary stand of sorts for it.

The Covenant Pyrograph and Carving Blank Wood by snazzie designz

It took a HUGE amount of work to sand it all down level and smooth on both sides using an angle grinder first, then a belt sander and then hand sanding to finish.

My sander just wasn’t up to scratch for this, and would have taken about 2 weeks to sand it properly, so I rented a belt sander. The guy in the shop said “It’ll do a jig on ya” and I learned pretty quickly what he meant by that! However, the belt sander was fantastic, and the entire surface was smoothed to a satin surface within 2 hours.

There was a substantial crack on the front, which I had to fill in and match the changing colour of the wood, which I hopefully achieved. It looks a lot less obvious now than it did anyway. There was mould on the back which I had to clean up, and eliminate before reinforcing the back and strengthening the waney edges so that they didn’t chip. Thanks to Aldwarke for letting me know that the bark edges are actually called waney edges. He almost makes me sound like I know what I’m talking about!

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Work In progress by snazzie-designz

This was also my very first attempt at carving a bas relief, and also my first attempt at a combination of carving and pyrography. I learned quite a few things along the way.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Work In Progress by snazzie-designz

Lesson No.1: Chisels are very, very sharp so keep both hands on them at all times unless you want razor cuts on your finger tips. I found that the habit of brushing away the carving dust was what caused the most injuries, when I’d accidentally catch the edge of the chisel. I also ended up making myself finger knuckle protectors from cotton wool and masking tape to prevent my knuckles catching sharp edges on the wood.

Lesson No.2: Carve and sand FIRST and then burn the design afterwards otherwise you end up having to re-burn everything.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Text Work In Progress by snazzie-designz

The entire story was painstakingly burned into the wood.

Burning the text took over a week. With smaller pieces you can easily rotate the piece as you burn to get the right angle with the burning tip, but with such a big piece I had to move around it.


The Covenant Pyro - Luis the Rowan Tree Guardian by snazzie-designz

The trees were hand carved to give them texture and depth giving a subtle 3D effect which the photos just don’t capture sufficiently. I couldn’t stop running my hands across the surface. The carving is only subtle because this piece was intended to be a bench that would sit at the end of a garden by a rowan tree fitting in completely with the story.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Zoom 05 by snazzie-designz

The artwork is all my own original design inspired by the story (though the couple were inspired by some royalty free clip art). The sun is on one side, and the moon on the other, and the leaves of the rowan tree range from autumnal oranges and yellows to summer and spring greens to try and encapsulate the timelessness of the story.


The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Text Zoom by snazzie-designz

The text “shoot” has a little shoot of a rowan tree growing out of it.


The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Apple Tree Spirit by snazzie-designz

I especially like that the apple tree spirit was not purposefully drawn in by me, but appeared of his own accord. 


The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Zoom 02 by snazzie-designz

The Song of Wandering Aengus Triptych

Triptych Panel 03  The Golden Apples by snazzie-designz

The couple in the tree is an homage to our previous Triptych collaboration which you can read about here.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Ogham by snazzie-designz

The symbols on the top left are the ogham symbols of the four trees (the hazel, rowan and apple trees in the story, and the pine tree of the wood itself) to honour the spirit of the trees.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving by snazzie-designz

The line “You must address yourself to the material in a loving frame of mind.” especially struck a chord with me, and shows the wisdom of a master craftsman coming through in the writing.  All crafts people appreciate the spirit of the materials with which they are working, and it is in the spirit of addressing oneself to the material in a loving frame of mind that this piece was carved, and pyrographed .

Originally the quote “You must address yourself to the material in a loving frame of mind.” Was text only, but I found that it was too plain looking, so I added some scrollwork to balance it out a bit.

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving Zoom 04 by snazzie-designz

The Covenant Pyrograph/Carving by snazzie-designz

I hope that this carving/pyrograph has done justice to Aldwarke’s truly beautiful story. I hope that it will become a physical manifestation of the protective spirit of Luis that can be passed down as the “great wheel” continues to turn, so
that the timeless joy of “The Covenant” can be enjoyed for generations to come.


WellSnazzie Collaborations Logo by snazzie-designz

For a full list of all of the WellSnazzie Collaborations please click here.