Northern Cardinal, Part One

Follow Jeff Rechin's instructions, and you won't see red when carving this popular songbird.

By: Jeff Rechin
Photography by Jeff Rechin

I’m ready to start painting. I’ve placed the bird on a small tower. I’ve added some toes, which I formed with QuikWood. However, you can use many materials and methods to create the feet.

Despite the cardinal's popularity and the fact that even non-birders can easily identify the species, I've sculpted only a few. With this cardinal, I created a fairly simple bird so I could concentrate on the basic anatomy (shape and form) that visually makes a cardinal a cardinal. The bird's anatomical features are unique, so my goal was to render these features in wood so people could see it was a cardinal before I even applied markings and paint. If you can accomplish this with the carving, you're well on the way. I carved this bird in a simple pose in order to concentrate more on the head, bill, body, and tail shapes. This bird was a little different for me because it was only the second time I've sculpted with tupelo wood. It burns and grinds well, but if you carve with hand tools, as I do, you have to make sure they're even sharper than usual. On the other hand, it is a great wood for the power carver.

This article is from the Spring 2010 issue. For more information on our issues, check out our issues page.


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