Play Food Carving Tutorial: Carrots

Before we get down to carving I have to tell you about something else. In preparation for the class I'm teaching on Thursday, Laura and I dyed a bunch of yarn with indigo- 

Sadly, there were holes in the gloves I was wearing and I dyed my hands as well- 

So please ignore my blue fingernails in the photos below! Thanks. 

To review, last week I made scallions. Today I'm showing you how I make these- 

Because everyone knows the best pretend stews have carrots in them.

This is a seriously easy project, if you can sharpen a pencil with a knife you can do this, I promise!

Here is what you need. 


-wood branch- about 1" in diameter- I used burning bush because it needed to be trimmed and I figured I'd try to work with it, but maple is excellent. Any green (freshly cut) wood will probably work. You could also use scraps of pine dimensional lumber, like a piece of 2x2. Or try a 1" dowel. 
-green wool felt
-watercolor paints 
-beeswax or polish


-knife (see here for more on knives)
-loppers or saw
-drill, 1/4" drill bit 
-knitting needle or other sharp thing

I forgot to mention last week but it's really helpful to have a piece of real food for reference. So go grab a carrot. The ones I made here are styled after the chunky homegrown carrots we sometimes harvest from our garden. Besides, if I make a supermarket-style skinny carrot it might get turned into a weapon in my house, ah the joy of having two boys! 

1. Cut your branch to a comfortable working length, my piece was about 10". Remove the bark and underbark layer. 

2. Starting about 1" back from the end, taper the end to a rounded point. If there isn't a darker place in the center, make a small dot with a pencil for reference so you keep everything about centered. 

If you have a sharp hatchet you can use that for shaping the tapered end. I hold the piece at an angle then chop straight down. 

3. Figure how long you'd like your carrot to be and score a line with your knife. Make small cuts into the piece, working around. Then repeat, coming from the other direction to make a "v" shaped channel around the piece. 

4. Using the loppers or a saw, cut your piece to length in the narrow part of the "v." Use your knife to shape the end grain. 

5. Go over the whole piece lightly to remove any big bevels or cut marks. I don't sand my pieces because I like to see the knife marks. Here's the finished shape before painting- 

6. Drill a hole in the top.

If you are working with green wood, let the piece dry over night. 

6. Paint with orange watercolor paint. I don't use much water because I want the color to be pretty opaque. Don't forget that the paint will dry lighter.

7. Cut out leaf shapes. To make them fringy, cut slits along the side, then gently pull the whole leaf from top to bottom. Make a couple leaves per carrot.

8. Put a dab of glue in the drilled hole. Use a knitting needle to pole the felt ends down inside the carrot.

9. Finish with a coat of beeswax or polish. Buff and hand over to your kiddos! 

Next week I'll do a cuke and show how to make the kind of veggies you can "cut" apart.