So here is a little show and tell of my process for carving a bear. I use a pocket knife, a serrated pocket knife, and a Dremel tool. I also have a hand saw for chunking away the larger bits.
I first start with a lot of sketches, I also look to inspiration, so I know what I'm generally going for. In this case I looked at real bear footage, a ton of bear books, and some Country Bear stuff over at the Imagineering Research Library. I pick my block of wood and start to draw on it...trying to see the character inside. To me drawing on the piece of wood is like drawing on paper, but in three dimensions.
Once I start cutting this usually changes a bit, because I like to work into the wood and find the finished product as I go. I knew I wanted the bear to be in a relaxed pose(considering he has just eaten.) So I worked at that for awhile to get it right. I put him a little off balance from the wood which was difficult considering I want to make use of as much of the block of wood as possible. His butt overhangs in the back a little and extends in the front. I ended up using a few glued in pieces( the butt of the gun, and the raccoon tail on his cap, and the bottom stump of wood he sits on.) The barrel of the gun is a thick piece of copper wire.
I have to just keep cutting, then do a drawing, look at it from all angles, cut again, then draw again and keep repeating until I've carved away every bit of the wood that is necessary. It's always been an exciting moment when I finally can see the character realized in three dimensions! It's so much fun! If you've never tried it, you should. There is something so tangible and permanent about carving something from a piece of wood.
Just thought I'd share that. Please come to the Super Big Micro Show at Gallery Nucleus on Dec. 11th!