Carve a Christmas Angel

Monday 9 July 2018

The angel can be a wall hanging or, in a smaller size, a Christmas tree decoration. I have shown two versions because I know not every carver has the facility to cut an accurate outline but the order of carving is the same for both.

Angel silhouette

The silhouette angel is cut from 250mm thick lime 280 x 200mm. The big advantage of this type of carving is that you straightaway have the correct shape.

For safe working, the shape is screwed to a piece of ply that can be clamped to the bench. If you are worried about the screws being too long, you could use double-sided carpet tape to stick the shape down.

The lowest parts are the wings and halo, so mark a line round them at the thickness wanted, probably about 8mm, and cut them down. Tackle the face next because this is one of the highest points, and probably causes the most problems. There need not be too much detail as long as the expression is serene; on a smaller size carving, you can get away with leaving the face featureless.

Once you are happy with the face, work your way down the figure, leaving the hands as the highest point and cutting the sleeves so that the elbows are the lowest points. Now round the body and cut the upper dress into the sleeves.

Round the lower dress and cut that into the upper dress. Cut a couple of folds into each layer of dress. Finally, go back to the wings and cut 'feathers' to give texture.

Angel relief

The relief is also in 250mm thick lime but is overall only 240 x 160mm, leaving the angel about 200mm tall. This is more work because the background needs to be cut down first, and it is important to get it level up to the outline of the figure. Once the background is cut, the order of carving is the same as for the silhouette. When the angel is carved, the background can either be sanded or textured.


Both carvings are finished with Danish Oil and then lightly wax polished, and if you want a bit of Christmas 'bling' you could try gilding, or painting, the wings and halo.