Carving Play Food Tutorial: Cucumber

Today's post is a quick and easy one, a fresh, cool cucumber. And there's one ready to harvest in my garden- 

I wish the cukes in my garden were this big, things are looking pretty pitiful out there! It's nice that this play food isn't affected by lack of rain or poor garden maintenance. Luckily, Laura's garden is rich with cucumbers right now, so I had lots of healthy specimens to use as models for this project.

If you would like to carve your own cucumber, you'll need just a few things. 

Supplies:

-wood piece- I used a scrap of pine 2x4 that was about 6"long because I had trouble with one of my carrots from last week splitting. There are ways to slow down the drying of the piece to prevent cracking, but with something this chunky, I think dry wood is best. Plus, it's easier for most people to acquire. 
-watercolor paints 
-beeswax or polish

Tools:

-knife (see here for more on knives)
-saw

1. Start by ripping the 2x4 lengthwise so you have a piece that is about 2" wide.

2. Begin rounding the piece by slicing off the corners so you have an octagon when you look at the end. 

3. Continue rounding the whole thing until you have a flattish cylinder shape. 

4. For this step it helps to have a real cucumber to look at. One end is blunt and one is more tapered. Shape the blunt end by making cuts about 3/4" away from the end to taper the end. Then use your knife to work across the grain to round the sharp edge.

5. The more tapered end is made the same way, but you begin your cuts about 1 1/2" back from the end and you make the whole cylinder narrower on that side. It's not shown here but you would also work to bevel the sharp end on the tapered side before moving on.

6. Then use your knife to scrape across the end grain of both sides so everything is nice and smooth. If your knife is good and sharp, this is much faster than using sandpaper. 

7. Your shape is done, now on to painting.

I don't sand these, if there are any rough bits, I go over lightly with the knife held almost parallel to the piece and shave off little bits at a time. 

 

8. Mix up a bright, dark green and a lighter chartreuse green. Paint one of the flattish sides with some of the chartreuse. Keeping everything nice and wet so the colors flow together, paint the rest of the piece with the dark green. 

9. Then using the chartreuse again, make some streaks that start from one end and lightly go the length of the cucumber.

Let the paint dry, add polish or beeswax, buff well and your cuke is done. Here it is along with the other veggies I've made so far:

I know I said I'd show you how to make a cut apart cuke today, but I decided to save that for next week because we'll make a simple play knife and cutting board as well. 

If you have any questions about this process, please use the comments below.

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