A Little Tipsy

Turned Blank

Arbutus wood is very beautiful, hard to find and difficult to carve. Local woodworkers say to carve it green or it is rock-hard.  The friend of a friend turned this blank for me a few years ago, but I was not ready yet, so I popped it into the freezer to keep it “fresh”.




…it is very hard wood – 1460 on the Janka hardness scale! Click here for a link to the Janka scale (Arbutus is the same as Madrone).




A carving friend and mentor recommended soaking the pieces in 50% alcohol and water which softens the surface enough to move wood! It does seem to have helped, anecdotally the alcohol bath seems to render the wood a little mushy and easily split, which are good things when large chunks need to come off, but not a desirable characteristic when doing delicate work like the face.




I am carving a little at a time to rest my hands…



tipsy bath

…another carving friend said that with all that alcohol seeping into her xylems and phloems, she must be getting quite tipsy!!




So Tipsy she will be – and as a bonus she is protected from the virus!




14 thoughts on “A Little Tipsy

    • I am so glad you found your way to the Hitty Cupboard! You are welcome – I am pleased with the way Tipsy is turning out, warts and all – wait a sec, where’s that sandpaper….

  1. I can hardly wait to show my sister these great tips for carving hard woodens. I can see that this new Hitty is ready to be born…will be delightful to welcome her into the world. Love the name Tipsy…adorable.
    I’m off to soak in an alcohol bath…who knew?

    • The alcohol-soaking method does seem to work, though I haven’t tried it with seasoned arbutus…I was pleasantly surprised! I love the name Tipsy too, and she seems to be full of giggles, so it might fit!

    • I learned one of the hardwood-carving suggestions from a local wood-carver, and another from an expert doll-maker and carver…I surely wouldn’t have come up with them myself…Arbutus is definitely “up there” in the hardness range, I am glad I had two helpful tips for making it easier. Olive is the hardest wood I’ve ever carved (Gráinne is Olive) but this is pretty close!

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