Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments

Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments

By Betty Padden

A Book Review

You’re all probably busy right in the middle of your Christmas carving just about now so I thought this would be an appropriate time to introduce you to this great must-have book!  If you can’t get it now put it on your list to Santa!

“Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments” by Betty Padden is probably one of the best books I have in my library.  Published in 2014 by Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Inc. this 98 page full-color book contains techniques and patterns for 23 enjoyable ornaments to keep the carver busy all year long.

Front Cover
Back Cover

There are 6 step-by-step projects all arranged by skill level from beginner through intermediate to advanced.  The projects include Angels, elves, stars, snowmen, penguins, poinsettias, and more.  One of my favorites is the Christmas candle.

Candle Ornament
Stocking Ornament

The front of the book includes a full list of the tools required to complete all of the projects, but the most helpful part is the section on painting the ornaments.  Betty Padden is perhaps one of the best painters I know, and in her book she covers brushes, highlighting, shading, blending and mixing of colors.  She also shows you the colors used to paint each ornament.

Penguin Ornament

“Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments” is available for $16.99 US | $21.99 CAN | 11.99 RRP UK from Fox Chapel Publishing Company, Inc.  I highly recommend this book to any carver who enjoys carving Christmas ornaments or is looking for new Christmas ideas.

Questions & Comments

Our first comment this week comes from Dean who tells us about one of his favorite carvers:

“We all have favorite carvers on YouTube. But I want to add one of my favorites. He hasn’t posted from many years so lots of folks won’t know him. His name is Gary McDaniel. His face tutorials are my favorite. His Indian, greenman and Santa are excellent for beginners or intermediate. Check him out.”

Thanks for sharing that information, Dean.  I have heard of Gary McDaniel but have never seen any of his videos.  I will definitely have to look into them.

Our next question comes from Cory Rower who needs some advice on gouges:

“Hello! I just had a question and maybe someone else has already asked this but I am trying to decide between palm Chisels/Gouges or the Schaff 12 piece carving set with a full length handle. Are there benefits to having a certain one? Or is it more of a personal preference? I have been kind of tossing around the Flexcut palm set or the Schaff 12 piece set.
Thank you for any help you are able to give. It is very much appreciated.

I will offer my opinion here and maybe some of our readers can write in with more advice on what you should do.  First of all, I’m not familiar with Schaff tools so I can’t speak to their quality.  As far as long handle vs. palm gouges goes it’s a matter of preference.  I know carvers who use both but personally I prefer palm gouges.  And finally, this may not be what you want to hear but I am not a fan of tool sets because I can assure you that if you buy a 12 piece tool set there will surely be 3 or 4 gouges in that set you will never use.  So in the end you paid for tools you really don’t want.  My advice there is to buy your gouges individually as you need them.  This way you are always getting a tool you will use.  Buy 2 or 3 now, then add more as you need them.

I received another message from Cory R. this week who sent in some photos of his latest work:

“Hi, I had messaged you on Instagram about the tutorial you did on your Patriotic Santa. So I still have to add in his mustache and beard hairs but  he looks so much better. Definitely not perfect but I was pretty happy how he turned out. Thank you for taking the time to explain it to me. 

I also have some pictures for the WoodChip Chatter Blog if you want to use them. The first is a star ornament with JOY wood burnt onto it. The second is one of the many penguin ornaments I’m making this year and then we have a before and after your help on my Santa ornament! 

Also in reply to your October 16th post my name is Cory R. from Ohio and I am definitely still in the beginning stages of carving but I really enjoy it.”

Thanks for your message, Cory, and thank you especially for the photos.  I always appreciate receiving photos from my readers.  We’ve all been in the beginning stages of carving at one time.  I think you’re off to a good start.  The nose on your Santa is much improved but if you want to make it rounder cut more off the bottom.  I really like your star ornament!  Your wood burning is excellent, and your penguins are looking good too.  Keep up the good work and keep those photos coming!

My good friend Tony Harris sent in an all too kind accolade after reading my stories about Halloween and the Jack-O-Lantern:

“WOW! so much information. Your writing talents are awesome, plus a very talented woodcarver as well.  =]”

Thank you so much, Tony!  I greatly appreciate your all too generous compliment!

Our next message comes from Dean Stewart with some meaningful information on the comparison of BLO versus mineral oil:

I was the one who first mentioned the Doug Linker video (Live Stream).  I mistakenly believed that live streams were archived like videos are.  My mistake.  To make up for it, I am sending the attached picture of my three women.  I hope this can be the start of a mineral oil versus BLO discussion.  Lizzy on the left is sealed with mineral oil.  Natalie in the middle is natural basswood and Rita on the right is BLO.  These have been sitting for about 9 or 10 months.  You can see some yellowing on Rita that is not visible on Lizzy.  The grain on Lizzy really pops, but that might be just this wood.  I didn’t do any painting comparisons.  Maybe someone else has done that.  I’m personally sold on mineral oil.  Very inexpensive, you can paint on it wet or dry, the colors stay sharp and the rags don’t require the same care as BLO.”

They say a picture tells a thousand words and your picture, Dean, helps to demonstrate what I’ve been saying all along, and that is that BLO will yellow your carvings after a period of time.  After using BLO your “Rita” carving shows major signs of yellowing after just 9 months!  Your “Lizzy” carving treated with mineral oil shows no changes at all.  This is exactly why I encourage all my fellow carvers to break away from using BLO and switch over to either mineral oil or walnut oil.  Thank you very much, Dean, for sharing your research results with us!

As further proof, the first photo below is an award-winning carving I did in 2015.  The second carving below that is what the same carving looks like today in 2021.

Santa carved in 2015
Same Santa in 2021 (after 6 yrs.)

You can easily see a major difference in color after only 6 years.  The flesh tones have darkened significantly and the whites of the hair, mustache and beard have also all darkened.  For this reason, I do not advocate the use of BLO on wood carvings.

Let the chips fly!  Tell your wood carving friends and spread the word about Wood Chip Chatter, and don’t forget to click the ‘Comment’ button at the bottom of the page to send in your questions and comments so we can keep Wood Chip Chatter active and keep the conversations going! 

And remember, we need your photos!  I’m sure you all have some terrific carvings to share, and photos of your carvings will help to liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting.  Perhaps we can start a carvers photo section!  Email your photos to

Keep a sharp edge and keep on carvin’!

Did you hear the joke about the two skunks?

Never mind, it stinks.

Joke courtesy of my 7 year old granddaughter!

Published by carverbobk

I’m a self taught award winning wood carver who has been carving since I was a teenager. I enjoy instructing other carvers, especially beginners.

3 thoughts on “Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments

  1. Hi Bob, What time zone are the Zoom in? 3 p.m. I’m in Pacific Daylight Saving time zone. Thanks, George

    On Fri, Nov 5, 2021 at 7:07 AM Wood Chip Chatter wrote:

    > carverbobk posted: ” Carving & Painting Christmas Ornaments By Betty > Padden A Book Review You’re all probably busy right in the middle of your > Christmas carving” >


  2. Bob,

    I did read with much interest you Blog on Carving & painting Christmas Ornaments, but was late to the party for my comments. I just started doing some ornaments and this information will be very helpful.
    This is one of the topics that is discussed within our club, but I don’t remember anyone ever saying anything about mineral oil. I’m going to give it a try this week and see how it goes. Is this something you can purchase at Lowe’s or Home Depot, and does it only come as mineral oil? I assume you brush it on and wipe off the access?
    Really enjoy your Blogs and hope you can keep it going.
    RJ Nes Carver


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