Simple carving from twigs and branches

I have enjoyed learning to use my carving knife more in the last couple weeks. When I set up the wood shop for the boys, I worked on some beginner pieces alongside them. They are super-simple, almost embarrassingly so, but it's very satisfying to make something from a little scrap of wood, so I wanted to share them. 

First I made a candleholder.

It was windy yesterday, the flames could barely stay lit! The holes are too wide and not quite deep enough, I need to re-drill them a bit deeper. The maple branch came straight out of our firewood pile. I sawed it in two, smoothed the bottom, removed the bark and rounded the cut edges just a bit with my knife. Then I drilled the holes with a spade bit. A sanded it lightly and wiped on some flax seed oil for a finish. Not much work, but now it's a lovely thing for our autumn table. I think the end grain is beautiful.

I also made a few hooks from the birch wood I collected with my dad this summer.

I am going to make one for each of my boys and Laura's boys, I am thinking of adding color and/or carving their initials, but I like this unembellished look too. My dad has a bandsaw, so I sawed the round branch to make it flat at his house, but it was not quite level so I did some work on the back so it would lay flat against the wall. I think it's pretty too. 

The bark is infinitely easier to remove when the wood is green, I wish I had done that back in the summer. But it is a small thing to carve off the bark and then simply shape the rest of the hook. I drilled holes with a countersink bit to hopefully make the screws less noticeable. This hook is also finished with flax seed oil.

I just got a book, The Little Book of Whittling, from the library, and it's a good resource for carving twigs and branches. I am going to buy a copy of it for Julian, he's made a ton of magic wands, and this book would be a great stepping-stone to more complex but still approachable projects.