Animals, Books, Photos, Drawings

Prepare yourself for carving animals, look at animals, notice how and where parts really connect, try sketching them.  Use live subjects or wooden ones, on a carousel, or at other displays. Because the horse is so well known, it can be one of the more difficult animals to draw or carve, people have a better idea of what anatomy they want to see. You will have more freedom carving a menagerie animal, just be sure to refer to an encyclopedia so you are sure to include some of the prominent details correctly, i.e.; number of toes, position of horns, type of eyes, etc. There are many good books full of animal photos, visit the library and soak these up. Carousel art or not, look at all types and sizes of wood carvings, this is great reinforcement for the wood carver, it will look less daunting to undertake as your familiarity increases.

Carousel animal construction is a combination of several carving and assembly techniques; thick-box cabinetry (sometimes called coffin construction), stack laminating, jointing, bas relief carving, etc. The nature of the carousel animal lends itself to a wide range of design and style possibilities, restrictions are few and many things have not yet been done. The most important design and construction aspect to remember is the ability of your piece to hold together structurally and also be user and viewer friendly. This essentially means that the arrangement of design elements is done so that they can't injure anyone, I call it "kid proofing."  Unless you are sure that your carving will never be ridden or played on by a child, this is an important process to include. One other consideration is possible shipping, do you want any parts of your animal to be detachable?  Sometimes people wonder why a carousel animal can have a slightly odd looking bent under foreleg, dull ear-tips or short stubby toes, etc., it has been "kid proofed," these elements have been rendered as harmless as possible by aiming them differently or removing sharp points.

There are many books available on carousel animals, here are a few I like:

There are also several carousel carving books out, they range from very poor to pretty good, preview before buying. The National Woodcarvers Association puts out an excellent membership magazine Chip Chats, 7424 Miami Ave. Cincinnati, OH 45243. I also sell the Dentzel Coloring Album which portrays scale horse, menagerie and chariot drawings which can be used to make larger patterns and templates. To get a copy of the Dentzel Coloring Album go to the Coloringbook Introduction Page, (the Coloringbook page does not offer a return link to the Construction Handbook, so use your browser's back button to return to here, otherwise you will be visiting other areas of the Dentzel carousel world).


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