Carving wood spirits into hiking sticks is a creative pastime that brings wood carving into a spiritual realm. The American Indians believed that wood spirits’ mix of human features and elements of nature combined to protect them from dangers in the woods. Carved wood spirits can have flowing hair that turns into vines or leaves, or becomes part of the tree bark. The features are often highly exaggerated, with large noses, deep-set eyes and bushy eyebrows. One design will often lead to another and soon you will have several wood spirits to give or sell. Popular items at fall arts and craft fairs, this hobby could lead to nice part time income from home.
To make your own hiking stick with a wood spirit face you will need;
Sketch out a wood spirit on paper. Determine the elements of nature you want to include as well as the human attributes you wish to give to your particular wood spirit. Decide whether you want the character to be smiling and happy, or menacing. Choose either a set of large eyes, an extra large nose or a wide mouth. One exaggerated feature is often enough, but a combination of two will also work. Next, determine how you will be incorporating the blend of nature with the human features; for example, a beard could turn into tree bark or autumn leaves.
Choose a suitable stick. The wood surface should be large enough to create a face upon. Look for a mostly straight piece of solid wood. Long enough to be a good walking stick.
Clamp the stick to your work surface. Use a small chisel and your rubber mallet to create a series of initial notches in your wood. Start by making a deep notch in the center of the area you have determined for your wood spirit face. This is a V-shape cut into the wood horizontally that will be the bridge of the nose. The depth is determined by the circumference of your wood. It should be approximately a third of the way in to the wood. The second notch will be the bottom of the nose and will not be quite as deep. Follow this with one more notch, again, not as deep as the first two notches, to determine where the forehead ends.
Hollow out deep eye holes on either side of the bridge of the nose. Use your carving tools to round out the cheeks, creating two small indentations on either side of the bottom of the nose. Once these basic planes are set, finish carving the eyes and detail the facial elements such as the lips and nose.
Pencil in the natural elements and begin carving the hair. Use a variety of wood carving tools to create different cuts.
Lightly sand the image of your wood spirit and the hiking stick. Finally, apply a light coat of varnish or stain if desired. If you decide to go with stain, wipe on a dark stain and let sit for a moment, then rub most of it off with a soft cloth, leaving behind dark creases. Cover with a lighter stain and clear varnish.