Teddy Bears Picnic

Can you find the 10 hidden bears?

First cut: December 8, 2019
Finished: June 8, 2021

19″x19″, basswood.


Contendium – Day 19

Last time I posted, I had just completed 10 days’ worth of carving on my new piece, Contendium. I’ve now finished day 19, so here’s an update.

The elements are pretty much all roughed in now, and some are even almost final. Still to come: adjusting the depths and details, the front cover and the sides.

Contendium - 23jan19

Contendium as of January 23, 2019

Rabbit is done!

Oh my ears and whiskers, this took far too long. A not-so-difficult chainsaw project that underwent massive scope creep. But I’m happy with the results!

Also, on a more practical level (and much less time-consuming), here’s a set of salad servers:

Salad servers

And now, time to get back to the book… New post on that coming soon.


It’s been a while, but I’m back here with a new post, and introducing my new carving, Contendium ─ a portmanteau name built from the French conte and the English/Latin compendium. When finished, it will be an open-book collage of fairy tale imagery.

One of the things that drives most carvers crazy is being asked, “How long did that take you?” When you work a couple of hours here and a few there, over months or even years, it’s virtually impossible to keep track.

With Contendium, I’m hoping I’ll actually be able to answer that question. What I’m doing is taking a picture every eight hours or so and calling it a “day”.

Here are the pictures from Day 2, Day 6 and just an hour or two shy of Day 10. You can also follow my progress, and see all of the days, on Instagram, at illicitdiamond.

Contendium - Day 2

Contendium – Day 2

Contendium - Day 6

Contendium – Day 6

Contendium - Day 10

Contendium – Day 10



Grendel in wood

Grendel, basswood, approx. 3″

Here’s the latest: a miniature Grendel. This piece was really satisfying to carve — not just because it turned out well, but because:

  • it was quick to carve with hand tools
  • it would be easy to scale up as a chainsaw piece.

Could be the first of many more carved dogs to come!

Grendel in the flesh

Grendel in the flesh


Last Laugh Lion – Finished, October 2017

Artist’s Statement:
Last Laugh Lion

Palmyra is a city in what is now Syria. In the 1st century AD it was ruled by the Roman Empire and it was a wealthy trading centre. Around that time, artisans built a limestone statue in tribute to the goddess al-Lat.

The statue was 3.5 m (11 ft) high, and weighed 15 tonnes. It showed a lion, the consort of al-Lat, with a gazelle between its legs — symbolic of the goddess’s opposition to bloodshed.

Lion of al-Lat

After centuries of neglect, including being disassembled to use the stone for other purposes, the Lion of al-Lat was rediscovered by Polish archeologists in 1977. The statue was restored, and relocated to the entrance of the Palmyra Museum. In 2005, it underwent a second restoration. During the Syrian Civil War the treasured statue was protecting from fighting.

 Sadly, in 2015, Palmyra was captured by ISIS, and the Lion of al-Lat, which had survived close to 2,000 years, was demolished in a single day on June 27.

That was when I first learned about the statue, and I decided there and then that a statue celebrating a goddess who had opposed violence should not be allowed to be destroyed and consigned to oblivion. I began my carving, called Last Laugh Lion, the next day, to keep the memory of this ancient artifact and what it stood for alive.

I finished my lion on October 15, 2017.

The next day, I learned that unbeknownst to me, the whole time I’d been working on Last Laugh Lion, restorers had been at work on the original. Two weeks before my lion was finished, the original statue was restored. Some pieces are missing, and it has lost its imposing stone backing, but you can now see the Lion of al-Lat at the National Museum of Damascus.

Last Laugh Lion - finished, October 2017

Last Laugh Lion – finished, October 2017


Later that same year…

Time has flown since the last post! Sorry about that.

But I haven’t been idle. Highlight of the summer so far was the chainsaw carving course at Haliburton School of the Arts. Taught by Robbin Wenzoski of Robbin’s Amazing Art, it’s an intense course that covers chainsaw buying, maintenance and of course, safe use – along with plenty of opportunity to create works of art.

As a result, continuing my Alice in Wonderland theme, the cheschire cat in my tree out front now almost has the white rabbit for company. Just a few more details and finishing to go.

While in the Minden/Haliburton area I visited Walter at the Carving Gallery. Great guy and an outstanding place to visit if you’re a fan of chainsaw carving.

Chainsaw-carved White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland

White Rabbit, still needing his ears and whiskers. Plus a few other details, and finishing

Did you guess it?

Long overdue for an update about my contribution to the Maple Leaf Forever Tree at the Ontario Science Centre. It’s almost done — just a few tweaks to go and some tidying up. Just in time, too: all carving must be done by the end of May in order to finish the tree for Canada Day.

My leaf, almost done. Maple Leaf Forever Tree, April 30, 2017.

My leaf, almost done. Maple Leaf Forever Tree, April 30, 2017.