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How To Make Wood Anaconda Snakes from a Tree
Welcome to my tutorial!
Sculpting A Tree Into a Snake
My brother in-law, Al, knows how to make wood Anaconda Snakes from a tree. It is a unique one of a kind lawn ornament. I think it's a great looking feature for yard décor, and the handmade folk art from trees will catch peoples' eye from the road as they drive by and see a big wood snake figurine.
First you will need to find a tree that you can see the shape of a snake in, and cut the tree down. If it happens to be your tree, then its free. You will need a draw knife to peel the bark off the tree, a bow saw, wood chisels, mallet, and some smaller wood working knives, sandpaper,and maybe some wood putty for shaping the wooden snake sculpture.
The Anaconda will need a coat of primer paint, and then the best colors of paints for your snake. Al painted the masterpiece design using spray paint over a soft yellow base coat.
Al was cutting Aspen trees on their property for firewood and one that he downed was special, it reminded him of a serpent figure with its twists and he decided that his winter woodcraft project would be to turn a tree into a big wood snake carving. Now, they don't have anacondas in their neck of the woods. Well, I guess they do now! Al used a power saw to cut the tree down, branched it and then peeled away the bark with a draw knife.
Yes, he cut a tree down, saw the snake in it, debarked the tree with a draw knife, after cutting it into the 3 sections he wanted and shaped it with a draw knife, wood chisels and a carving knife, then butted up the pieces, glued and sunk long screws that he puttied over.
* He added a twig for the tongue, and some modified craft store eyes. Then, the painting began after studying colored pictures of Anacondas. That is it in a nutshell.
* I will do my best to explain how the snake was crafted. Al looked at pictures of Anaconda snakes and made a sketch of what he wanted. I asked how long it took him and he came up with 40 or 50 hours all told but he did not really pay attention to the time spent and said, "It was on and off , shaping and fitting and you just do not count the time, because it does not matter."
* Initially, Al was going to use a single section of the tree but then decided to cherry pick the best parts using a bow saw to cut out sections for the head and tail with a longer section for the body
* After cutting the 3 sections of tree, he went to work in shaping them with a draw knife, chisels, a band saw, a knife and sandpaper.
* He matched up the ends, applied wood glue and secured the pieces with long wood screws using an electric cordless drill.
* Then, he continued shaping by sanding and applied wood putty over the drill holes and sanded then smooth.
* The mouth was shaped using a bow saw and wood chisels after marking it off with a pencil.
* A power saw cut the tree down, 3 sections were used of 8 feet for the body, about 2 1/2 feet for the head and about 3 feet for the tail section. A person could also just work with the whole tree without cutting the sections up.
* This is folk art, and the artist goes with what feels right to them.
* A sharp draw knife will easily take the bark off a tree with a little manpower.
* Make the snake's tongue with a twig.
Paint the Wooden Anaconda Sculpture
All the paint used is for outdoor use. Al looked at several pictures of anacondas to get a general idea of how to paint the snake. He discovered that they vary in color and patterns, so got a general idea in his mind and went to work. He first used exterior latex semi-gloss to paint the snake soft yellow, which would be the belly color.
The next step was to use a brown spray paint over the whole snake, creating shading as he went along.
Then black spray paint was used to make the finishing oval markings of the snake, similar to those on a green anaconda. Detailing around the mouth was accomplished by making V cuts in a piece of cardboard to use as a stencil and completed quickly with black spray paint.
The tongue is just a forked twig that was cut to size and was sprayed red.
After Al carefully studied the colors of Anacondas, he choose his pallet of colors to paint his wooden snake sculpture that he handcrafted from the parts of an Aspen tree. This is a picture of the painting in progress showing the brown paint sprayed over the snake.
There are different species of Anacondas in varying colors. Here is an article about Anacondas with some pictures of these remarkable snakes, FYI.
Wood Snakes Head & Tongue Folk Art
I can imagine it took some searching to find just the right tree twig.
Not just any twig would do for me If I was handcrafting this snake's tongue. Al drilled a hole and slipped the tongue in place.
Of course, red is the best color for the tongue of the wood snake.
Here you can also see the added detail along the bottom of the snake's mouth. Al made a template out of a piece of cardboard and held it to the mouth area while spraying black paint to accomplish the detail quickly.
Al used Wood Filler to fill the holes and uneven wood of the tree.
Once the wood filler is applied to the sculpture, it has to dry, then it can be sanded down smooth with sand-paper.
I have used Dap and Elmer's wood fillers, and they performed well for my needs and held the test of years.
A wood carving of a Anaconda made from a tree is unique folk art, and sure to be a one of kind. Handmade ornaments for the home and garden are special works of art when they are carved on a large scale like Mr. Snake.
How To Make A Wood Anaconda Snake from a Tree Video
Draw Knife on Amazon
You Will Need a Draw Knife for Debarking a Tree. There are many different Draw Knives available on Amazon. You might be surprised at what other uses your can find for a Draw Knife. Keep it sharp and practice safety first as always, and you will not regret it.
A sharp draw knife will easily take the bark off a tree with a little man power. I used to watch my brother and dad peel the bark off trees with these.
Handmade Yard Ornament
Soft Yellow Latex Paint
I like using latex paints because they dry fast and I can use as many coats as I feel I need for different projects. Clean up is easy because latex is water soluble and paint brushed and rolls clean up nicely with soap and water, and lots of rinsing.
"One of the Largest Snakes in the World"
Anacondas are "one of the largest snakes in the world". The green anaconda is the largest species of them all. They are not venomous snakes, thankfully because of their size. None the less, an anaconda can and will some times squeeze the life out of its victims before the eating them, or even swallowing them whole. I have read that anacondas can swallow a goat whole. There are many stories online about anacondas swallowing critters alive, which are not my cup of tea to read.
Would you use a large wood snake as a yard ornament?
I hope you enjoyed How To Make Wood Anaconda Snakes from a Tree tutorial
Anaconda Frequently Asked Questions
- Frequently asked questions
Find out where Anacondas live, how big do Anacondas get, what they eat, and everything you ever want to know about these large snakes.
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Photo of a real Anaconda snake in the grass.
A Large Anaconda In The Wild Would Terrify Me
Words fall short at saying how terrified I would be if I came upon a huge Anaconda anywhere. If I knew before hand it was there and I wanted to see it, that would be different because I surely would keep my distance in the wild.
However, I did see a very large one when I was a child. The snake handler kept the snake draped over his shoulders with it's head and tail in front of him. To be honest, I did not desire to touch it then and wouldn't now.