Today I am very happy to welcome Katie from Duo Fiberworks with her Carving play food tutorial: strawberries. This tutorial is part of her series on carving play food which has been playing over at her blog. So far in the series you can find carrots, cucumbers and scallions – and today Katie shows us how to carve strawberries.
Katie Startzman is a maker whose first creative love is knitting, but she blogs about all her creative pursuits at Duo Fiberworks. Lately she’s been writing about leather sandal making, wood carving, chicken coop building and hand sewing.
I came up with this project because we needed more pretend food for the play kitchen at the preschool cooperative my son attends. Using scraps of lumber, watercolor paints and bits of wool felt, I fashioned sweet and sturdy play food. I know some people are intimidated by working with wood, but I am also a beginner wood carver. If you have a sharp knife and a few hand tools, you can make some simple, lovely berries for your family, give it a try! I will continue to offer tutorials on my blog for carving fruits and vegetables; so far I’ve done scallions, carrots and a cucumber.
-Wood piece – I used a scrap of pine 2×4 that was about 8½” long
-Beeswax or polish
-Green wool felt
-It helps to have some real strawberries to look at for reference.
-Knife (see here for more on knives)
-Hand drill with ¼” bit
-Clamp for sawing
-Knitting needle or something sharp
1. First, cut a piece from the 2×4 that measures 1¼” wide.
It’s much easier to work with a larger piece of wood, so I do as much carving as possible before cutting the individual strawberries off.
2.Begin by removing the corners of the whole piece, so you have a rough cylinder shape.
3. Draw a strawberry shape on the end of the piece and place a mark in the center of the bottom.
4. Taper the end to form a pyramidal shape, and continue refining the whole piece so it’s a cylinder.
5. To shape the top (wide end) of the berry, score a line that marks the top of the berry.
6. Make cuts into the piece that angle towards the line you scored. Work from both sides, so eventually you’ll have a “v” shape cut around the circumference of the piece.
7. I go around the piece several times to make a deeper indentation.
8. If you are just making one or two berries, you can cut off your first berry here.
9. Clean up the edge, by holding the knife at an angle and working across the grain.
10. Remove the end grain roughness by holding the knife almost parallel to the surface and moving smoothly across the top. This is much faster than using sandpaper.
11. I made 7 berries from my piece, so I sketched the shapes on the wood. See how the tops and bottoms are next to each other? It’s easier to do it this way.
12. Then I used the same scoring and carving technique as above to rough out the shapes. It’s kinda tricky, but if you turn the piece frequently, you can remove a lot of material and get your berry shapes mostly formed before cutting.
13. When you have refined the shapes as much as you can, cut the pieces off.
14. Clean up the tops and bottoms by again working across the grain to bevel any sharp edges and removing the end grain. I like a beveled, chunky look, but you can use smaller cuts to make things look more refined.
15. When you are pleased with your shapes, it’s time to move on to painting. Mix a couple shades of red. Apply the paint using plenty of water, but remember the paint will dry lighter and a little will rub off when you add your final finish.
16. Let the pieces dry. Drill a hole in the top of each piece. Apply a light coat of beeswax or polish and buff the excess off. This makes a slightly shiny, smooth finish.
17. Cut a “starburst” shape from felt for each top. Glue securely to the top.
Optional: If you want all the points glued down to the berry top, add a dab of glue to each point and use a sturdy rubber band to hold them in place while drying. Cut a ½” stem. Add glue to the end of a stem. Use a knitting needle to poke the stem down through the felt top and into the hole you drilled.
18. Let the glue dry. Your strawberries are finished, how about some shortcake?