Christmas Choral Mice:
Peter Benson gets ready for the season of goodwill with these adorable singing mice, perfect for a Christmas scene under the tree.
In an attempt to find something ‘silly’ for my carvers to do in one day for a Christmas session, I came up with a simple design that could be modified in dozens of ways to individualise the end result – the Christmas mouse. Since then the same principle has been adapted time and time again with different subjects. Once you have had a go at one idea, it is amazing how the mind flies with a succession of variations.
Most hobby carvers tend to spend the majority of their carving time producing ‘works of art’ that are generally confned to the display cabinet and occasionally they are given to unsuspecting friends and relatives or, rarely, sold to an admiring member of the public. The whole process tends to be a rather solitary affair.
The Christmas mouse, therefore, is an opportunity to carve rather than produce something artistic, meaningful or with intrinsic value – it is intended purely for entertainment. You will certainly enjoy the process and anyone to whom you give one as a present will enjoy the result of your efforts.
You can do what you like as you develop the ideas – just have fun.
Tools you will need
• Butternut (Juglans cinerea), lime (Tilia vulgaris) or similar offcuts with grain
• Bandsaw or coping saw
• Selection of palm gouges or block cutters as required such as 6mm No.4, palm gouge and 3 and 6mm, No.9 palm gouge
• Bradawl – hole for tails
• Leather or string for tails
• Danish oil
• Water-based acrylics
• Acrylic varnish in matte or satin
Drawings and how to resize them
To enlarge or reduce the size of drawings right click on the image to download it and then go HERE to watch a video on how to use paper with a grid to do exactly that.
All you now need to do is add some colour to the hat and scarf – I leave the rest natural. I have found that if I give the whole thing a coat of Danish oil – or any other sealer – and let it dry, the paint goes on better. I use water-based acrylics, but you will probably need more than one coat. For something like this you need really bright colours.
The squeezebox has been lined with black and then painted with a metallic gold paint and the mouth is painted black. Once this is thoroughly dry, give the whole thing a coat of matte or satin acrylic varnish. All of this is readily available from any decent craft shop.
Family of mice
You now have the start of your family of Christmas mice. If you think you will get away with carving just this one think again. Once your friends and family see this you will end up with a long list of orders. I did this with one of my classes and one student came back the next week with a request for 24 more blanks. Be warned!
Why stop at mice?
I have done a similar thing with carol singing kids (see below) and I have them with mobile phones, iPods, cans of drink, catapults and so on. There is probably no limit to what you can add to make this a truly festive holiday.