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Handcrafted Wooden Ornaments

Updated on October 6, 2020
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Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.

Hand Wood carved elephants
Hand Wood carved elephants

The Beauty of Hand Carved Wooden Ornaments

I love ornaments hand carved from wood, even when they're produced in bulk commercially each one is slightly different and therefore unique from the others. The two show pieces in our collection is of a mother and baby elephant hand carved from one solid piece of driftwood and a pair of giraffes each one individually hand carved from bamboo. In this article I showcase these exquisite pieces of handcrafted fine art woodworked ornaments, along with a couple of examples of simple wood lathed pieces; and offer you the opportunity to choose and buy your own handcrafted wood ornaments, ideal as gifts for your loved one, friend or relative.

Elephants Hand Carved From Drift Wood

We have a few small wood handcrafted collectables and fruit bowls made on a lathe or otherwise handmade but this pair of elephants (mother and child) was the first truly hand carved ornament we owned.

Coming back from a week's holiday in Cornwall and Devon and taking the coastal road to admire the scenery, rather than the direct route back home, we made a stop at one of the coastal towns for a quick lunch and to spend an hour window shopping; before making the final leg home across Dartmoor heading back towards Bristol. It was while window shopping in the local tourist shops on the high street that we happened across a local crafts shop that specialised in making wooden carvings from drift wood frequently washed up on the local beaches.

Browsing around the craft shop packed with hand carvings (all made from drift wood) was a most wondrous experience; and in the shop was this superb hand carved mother and baby elephant, carved from one piece of solid hardwood. The carved elephants is just over a foot high (30cm), carved from one piece of wood with a good wood stained or polished finish; and it's heavy.

Therefore we couldn’t resist buying it and bringing it back home with us.

Two Distinctive Ornaments
Two Distinctive Ornaments
Luxury Eelegant Box of Tissues Wooden Toothpick Resin Elephant Ornament.
Luxury Eelegant Box of Tissues Wooden Toothpick Resin Elephant Ornament.
Very elegant, ornate and luxurious wooden tissue box made from Thai teak wood with a fine carving of elephants on the side; 9 by 6 inches and 7 inches high.

Giraffes Made From Bamboo

This pair of hand carved giraffes, handcrafted from bamboo and just under 'four feet' in height (1.2m) we stumbled across in a local crafts shop.

Although they look similar each giraffe is different, as most evident in these pictures from their tails, making each giraffe unique and adding to their charm. Charming as they are, being made from bamboo and being so tall they are prone to topple if accidentally knocked, so later in the year on a spare weekend I'll reseat them on a slightly wider and heavier base to make them stand nice and solid and less prone to being knocked over.

Arranging Ornaments and Setting the Theme

With only two sets of handcrafted wooden ornaments, one pair (the giraffes) much taller than the other (the elephants) obviously there is little scope for us to mix and match these wooden ornaments with each other or with other wooden ornaments at this time.

Therefore, for the present, as can be seen from the above photo, we've decided to mix the theme and scale of the elephant by companioning it with this rather superb ornament of a Victorian style Father Christmas garbed in red but with a green cloak underneath and stylised more in the fashion of the original St. Nicholas rather than the modern day Santa. Our reason for putting these two completely different style and scale ornaments on display side by side is purely because they are both the same general height and because both of these handmade works of art are a little out of the ordinary and make fine pieces to showcase; both being quality made and quite substantial, and together they do work aesthetically well.

The reason for buying two giraffes was to pair them together, at the moment sitting either side of the fireplace but later in the year, once we've had a chance to build a planned conservatory they'll take pride of place in a suitable location in the new conservatory.

Handcrafted Wooden Giraffes
Handcrafted Wooden Giraffes

Turned Wood Collectables

Small Lathed Wood Objects

Nice as hand carved wood is even small bits of turned wood can have their uses and charm. On a couple of occasions we've visited craft fairs where they've demonstrated wood turning on the lathe using scrap bits of wood for their demonstrations and afterwards kindly given us the sampled works as keep sakes; or rather given to my son as he was so sweet natured and attentive when younger (and still is) that he often warmed the hearts of stall holders and shop assistance when we were on holiday or day trips.

The two small lathed items given to us at craft fairs was a wooden cord pull and a wooden cupboard door knob. The wooden cord pull I put to good use by replacing one of those silly little plastic cord pulls often found on the end of the light switch or shower pull in bathrooms. The cupboard door knob, a hollowed out piece of wood turned and shaped to a door knob I've yet to find a use for so currently it's currently on display as a small charming ornament on a shelf in our home office.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Handmade Wood Turned Cupboard DoorknobLathed DoorknobHand Turned Cord Pull
Handmade Wood Turned Cupboard Doorknob
Handmade Wood Turned Cupboard Doorknob
Lathed Doorknob
Lathed Doorknob
Hand Turned Cord Pull
Hand Turned Cord Pull

Hand Carved Wooden Ornaments

Hand carved from real wood

My idea of a hand carved wooden ornament is something you can put on display on a shelf, in a showcase display cabinet or large enough to be displayed as centre pieces on the floor.

Hand-Crafted Wooden Canoe with Paddles Miniature Replica (1-pc) 11-inch
Hand-Crafted Wooden Canoe with Paddles Miniature Replica (1-pc) 11-inch
Very fine handcrafted minister replica wooden canoe with paddles, 11 inches long; ideal as gifts and would make an excellent ornament on any shelf display or mantelpiece.

Crafting Your Own Art From Wood

I’ve always fancied doing my own wood carving but I’m neither artistic nor do I have all the appropriate carving tools.

Although on the principle of starting small and building up your skills, experience and knowledge it shouldn’t be so daunting e.g. bite size steps.

I’ve got as far as adapting from nature e.g. finding natural pieces of wood that already has shape and form; which might be as simple as a sliced section through a piece of knobbly tree trunk from a young tree. Such finds can already be quite artistic and may need no more than a quick clean-up and a lick of paint or varnish.

However, I haven’t as yet got as far as trying my hand at a simple bit of carving to produce simple shapes with a few basic tools.

Nevertheless I have successfully restored damaged wooden ornaments; something which does come more naturally to me. Fortunately I can eye something up to millimetre accuracy, which is extremely useful for my hobby in DIY woodworking. So when the edge of a wooden plate which we have hanging in the hallway broke off and got lost (when it was accidently dropped) I took the plate to my workshop (at the end of the garden) and then spent the next hour carefully carving a new piece to match, from some scrap wood. Once the new piece was carved I glued it in place, hid the join with wood filler, and then stained the new piece to match the colouring of the original.

Therefore, if you fancy having a good at some small wood crafting project, then there’s no harm in giving it a go; the worst that can happen is that your first attempt isn’t too special, but we all have to start somewhere.

Guide to Simple Wood Carving

Natural Wood or Painted Ornaments

The finished look of wooden ornaments

In the two ‘hand carved’ wood ornaments featured above the elephant has a natural wood finish and the giraffes have been hand painted and varnished.

Preference to Finish

On balance, do you prefer hand carved or handcrafted wooden ornaments with a natural wood finish or a painted and varnished finish?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Arthur Russ


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