For the mast two months I have been spending much of my carving time on Christmas ornaments. Most of them small Santa and Elf carvings. I can honestly say that the notion of carving many similar items makes you a better carver, but that can really only be appreciated when you get away from it for a bit and then come back. I took a little break from carving faces by doing a few birds and some other abstract pieces. This weekend I was looking through some old WCI issues in search of a gnome to carve. Something I had wanted to do for a while, but put off with all the Santa requests. WCI Christmas 1998 (#5) had just what I was looking for. It's the gnome Lyle Kraus did based on Will Huygen's beautifully illustrated book on Gnomes. What made this project much more fun was it's scale. I scanned the plans from the magazine and scaled it up in Photoshop so it's about 10 1/2" tall. That's at least 200% larger than most of the Santa I carved. What a joy to work in the larger scale. All the details I struggled with on the small faces - eyes, ears, fingers... much easier to work on. I can really feel how much I've improved by making multiple and by studying tutorials.
I decided to work in my office since it's been quite cold in the shop, but the chips were flying everywhere and I had to keep grabbing the vacuum cleaner after every session. While cutting up some boxes ready for recycling, I hit on a solution. I took one end of the box, cut a three-fold end and left a tab on the bottom which fit perfectly in the waste can I was carving over. Bingo! The chips hit the backboard and drop right in the can. I love simple and free solutions.