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St. Pope John XXIII Statue

St. John XXIII Parsh in Buffalo NY commissioned me to carve a four foot tall statue of Pope John XXIII to be installed in the church.  Many years ago, I had carved a four foot tall statue of St. Bonaventure for the church. This page follows the step-by-step process of how the statue will be created.

I start by sculpting a half-size clay model that I will use to take measurements from to enlarge to the wood carving. The clay model helps me resolve any issues about the composition and work out the details.

Next, an actual-size clay model of the head and face  is made to establish a likeness from which I can take measurements for the final carving. 


The statue will be carved from 16/4" kiln dried and milled basswood boards. The boards will be laminated together to form the large block for carving.  I will use mostly a mallet and chisels to do the carving.

Clay figure

Half-size clay model.

Clay head

The actual-size clay head.

Cutting boards

Cutting the basswood boards to size.

Gluing boards

Start gluing the first two boards.

Gluing boards 2

Another board added.

Gluing boards 3

...and another...

Gluing boards 5

...and another...

Squaring bottom

Squaring off the bottom.

Wood block

All the basswood boards are laminated together. Measurements were taken with proportional calipers to locate the parts of t.he figure on the block

Here is where the measurements from the model are important.

First day of carving

The end of the first day of carving. I establish the large shapes and start rounding off the square edges.

Second day of carving

End of the second day of carving. The figure is starting to take shape.

Progress third day

End of the third day's work.

Progress day 4

End of the fourth day.

Stage 5

Starting to get down to details.

Adding details

With the large shapes established, I can start carving the details of the robes and face.

Close up

The hand is carved as a separate piece so that the wood grain goes in the direction of the fingers.

Side view

Side view.

Finished carving 1

The carving part is finished.

Finished carving 2

Close up.

Finished carving 3

Side view.

Finished carving 4

The next step is to add paint.

Figure painted

I painted the statue with oil paint.

Close up painted

Detail view.

Side view painted

Side view.   

Side view close up painted

Detail side view.