Painting The Americana Santa – Part 3

This week I would like to open by just saying I hope everyone had a Safe, Healthy and Happy 4th of July weekend, and that each of you also stopped for a moment to think about why we have our independence in this country and are able to celebrate such a festive holiday.  Unfortunately, my 4th of July weekend was not that great.  My family returned home the Thursday before from a trip to Disney World and my wife and I both brought back covid-19 with us (as a “souvenir”).  So we spent the weekend shut indoors fighting the dreaded virus.  I’m happy to report, though, that although we are still fight some mild symptoms we are both on the road to recovery and are feeling much better.

Painting The Americana Santa

Part 3

By: Bob Kozakiewicz

This week we will paint the Americana Santa and complete our project.

Step 8. Paint the nose with Americana medium flesh and tomato spice.  Then paint the mustache and beard with Liquitex parchment.  Finally, paint the hat trim with Liquitex titanium white.

Step 9. Paint the gloves with Liquitex mars black and the under robe with Liquitex phthalocyanine blue (any navy blue color will work here).  Then paint the hat and outer robe with Liquitex naphthol crimson (or any bright red), and finally paint the robe stripes with Liquitex titanium white.

Step 10. To paint the stars dip the end of a toothpick (I prefer a round toothpick because it has a sharper point) into diluted titanium white.  Touch the toothpick tip to the carving and carefully drag it slightly in one direction.  Dip the toothpick into the paint again, place it at the point where the center of the star will be and carefully drag it out in another direction.  Repeat this process three more times (total of five lines).  Make several white stars randomly around the blue under robe to complete the carving. 

Finally, spray your carving with a light coat of Krylon matte acrylic sealer.

Completed Americana Santa

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and found it helpful.

Summertime Carving

Here we are in the middle of summer already.  The days are sunny and warm, if not hot, and many of us are thinking about vacations.  Summertime and vacation time are both great opportunities to get out and get some carving done.

My favorite place to carve is outdoors.  Whether it’s at the lake or on the beach, I find it so much more relaxing than carving indoors.  Maybe it’s the fresh air or cool breeze but sitting in the shade of a big old tree or beach umbrella just seems to calm my mind, and make me more productive.  I can carve all day long and never give a thought to the time of day or the world around me.

So tell us about your favorite place to carve during the summer…is it while camping in the woods, sitting by the lake or sea shore, or perhaps even while sitting in the air conditioning at home or in your hotel room while away on vacation?  Tell us about some of your experiences and maybe even send in some photos of something you carved this summer.

We’d love to hear from you!

PS. Have you ever actually tried to carve a watermelon? They’re fun to carve and make great centerpieces for your summer party tables. They carve very much like carving pumpkins but you get the added cool effect of the red, white and green colors from the melon. They easily garnished with other types of fruits to dress the up and create cool effects. Give one a try this summer and send in some photos of your creations. We’d love to see them!

Here is a photo of one of the very first watermelons I ever carved. It was done five years ago for my grandson’s 4th birthday party…the party theme was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was a last minute request so this was just something I whipped up.

After carving out the eyes and mask I used acrylic paints to give me the colors I needed but because the watermelon was wet and the paints are water-based I found it difficult to get a good, even coat of paint where I wanted it. Fortunately, I’m a much better wood carver than I am a watermelon carver. Any suggestions here are more than welcome!

Questions & Comments

We have an interesting question this week from Terry Grimm who wants to know more about that alcohol/water mix everyone uses.  Terry writes:

” I have read to soften wood for carving to apply 50% water and 50% rubbing alcohol from a spray bottle. I have tried this solution upon occasions and am quite happy with the results. I can understand the reasoning how water will make wood more pliable. However I do not understand the purpose of rubbing alcohol and how it may affect the wood fibers. Can you enlighten me?”

That’s an excellent question, Terry, and one I’m sure most woodcarvers haven’t even thought about.

A 50/50 mix of alcohol and water does two things.  It’s the water that softens the wood, and the alcohol that helps to keep your blade clean.  Alcohol can make an excellent stainless steel cleaner by removing water spots and disinfecting the surface.

True, there have been occasions when I would be carving and not have access to my bottle of alcohol/water mix, so I would just walk over to the sink and run my carving under the tap water to wet it good,  Not surprisingly, the wood, then cuts like butter, so you don’t really need the alcohol to soften the wood.

But the alcohol plays an important role.  Isopropyl Alcohol cannot remove rust, but it can remove grease and grime that accumulates on the blade, particularly at the base or joints of a pocket knives.  If not removed, the acid content in that grease and grime can possibly form corrosion on blades.

An important note on alcohol: The type of alcohol matters!  Make sure you are using Rubbing Alcohol or Isopropyl Alcohol…and not Ethanol.  99% Isopropyl Alcohol is non-corrosive to metals and plastics.  Ethanol, however, is known for triggering stress corrosion cracking of steel.

Also. If you are going to cut your alcohol with water make sure you use at least 70% or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol.  50% Isopropyl Alcohol is too weak.  If you you are going to use 50% alcohol just use it uncut straight from the bottle.

“Hi Bob,

Thank you for your response.  Your explanation is very helpful, I now understand, Thank you.”

Our next question this week comes from Jessi Mangold who want to know which finish to apply to her carving…shellac or polyurethane.  Jessi writes:

"Hi Bob,
I’m finishing up a project, and the instructions in Woodcarvers Illustrated says I need to use shellac to finish it. But what is the difference between shellac and polyurethane does it matter which one I use?
Many Thanks,
Thank you for your question, Jessi!  It basically comes down to a matter of preference.  If you are looking for a hard finish, then you want to go with polyurethane.  For a woodcarving it won't matter much, though and either one will work well.  However, if it's for an outdoor application you want to use polyurethane because shellac is soluble in water and will eventually wash off in the weather.
Allow me to go into a little more depth and explain the differences between the two finishes.  The following definitions should help:

Polyurethane –  varnish made with synthetic drying oils that is typically a hard, abrasion-resistant, and durable coating.  Popular for hardwood floors but are considered by some wood finishers to be difficult or unsuitable for finishing furniture or other detailed pieces. Polyurethane is comparable in hardness to certain alkyds but generally forms a tougher film. Compared to simple oil or shellac varnishes, polyurethane varnish forms a harder, decidedly tougher and more waterproof film.

Shellac (varnish) – a varnish made by dissolving shellac in (usually) alcohol or a similar solvent.

Shellac – lac* that has been purified and formed into thin sheets, used for making varnish.

*Lac – a resinous substance deposited on the twigs of various trees in southern Asia by the female of the lac insect (Kerria lacca): used in the manufacture of varnishes, sealing wax, etc.

Varnish – a preparation consisting of resinous matter, as copal, rosin or lac, dissolved in an oil (oil varnish) or in alcohol (spirit varnish) or other volatile liquid.  When applied to wood, metal, etc., it dries and leaves a hard, more or less glossy, usually transparent coating.

As you can see, shellac and polyurethane are both varnishes but are made in different ways from different chemicals.  Polyurethane is made from various oils which give it a hard finish and render it water resistant, whereas shellac is generally made with alcohol.  Its finish is not as hard as polyurethane and it is not very resistant to water.  For indoor applications such as woodcarvings, however, shellac works sufficiently as a finish.  For example, I have several carvings I finished with shellac many years ago and the finish still looks good and has not yellowed.

For more information on various wood finishes and solvents refer back to my blog of April 8, 2022, “Wood Finishes & Their Solvents.”


Photo Shop

“Photo Shop” is the section of Wood Chip Chatter where carvers can send in photos of their wood carvings for display. It’s your chance to show off your work…sort of a show and tell. The photos will only be displayed and no comments or critiques will be made.  For critiques on your carvings send them in to the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos to

Our only entry to the “Photo Shop” this week (and it’s a good one) comes from John Robinson who carved a mate for his Barney Bear.  John writes:

“Well Barney Bear found a new girlfriend Bernadette. Enjoy !” 😁 

Great job on Barney’s girlfriend, John!  Barney and Bernadette both look terrific together, especially mounted on the nice base you put them on.  Mounting your carvings on a base really makes the difference between a good looking carving and an excellent looking carving.  Thanks for sharing!

News & Announcements

The International Association of Woodcarvers has upcoming Zoom meetings on the following Saturdays at 3PM EST with special guest presenters.  Check them out…

Zoom:  310-460-3575

NOTE:  During the months of June, July and August meetings will be held only once per month…


7/23 – Guy Nelson

8/20 – Malcom Sharp – Twisted Sticks




“Carver’s Corner” is a great way to get constructive critiques on your carvings so you can learn where to improve on your next ones.  However, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in this segment of the blog so I’m considering dropping it.  Tell me what you think.


 I’m sure you all have some terrific carving photos to share in my “Photo Shop” section.  Photos of your carvings liven up the blog’s appearance and make it more interesting. 

NOTE: Whenever sending in photos please specify whether you want them for display in “Photo Shop” or if you want me to critique them in the “Carver’s Corner.”  Send your photos in to  Thank you.

Keep a sharp edge, and keep on carvin’!

Funny Bone

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.

2 thoughts on “Painting The Americana Santa – Part 3

  1. Greetings! And thanks for the tutorials. How do I get to the links for painting 1 & 2?

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. Hi Andy! I’m glad you liked the painting tutorial. My blogs are all posted in chronological order. If you are a regular subscriber to Wood Chip Chatter you should be able to scroll down from one post to another. The three I did on the Americana Santa are the last three I posted so you should be able to scroll down seamlessly through all of them.
    If you’re not a blog subscriber and want to subscribe just go to the Home page, scroll to the bottom and click on the subscribe button.


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