My one and only (but hopefully not last) woodcarving was learned by e-mail and snail mail from a very gifted gent now deceased. Two of his beautiful birds sit next to my adequate attempt at a Sanderling.
His instructions were "get the basic rough shape and then carve away everything that ain't what you want." It was interesting to keep adjusting my mental picture from gross to fine. It took a month or so of careful carving to come up with something I called passable. He said it was a fine first effort. He was being kind and I loved him for that.
It was also hysterical to me to be learning how to handle a knife from a guy almost 20 years my senior by mail and do it without a finger guard...he said the best way to learn to be careful was to cut yourself a few times. He said I could use the glove after I'd christened a practice piece or two. He also said not to go out and buy expensive tools until I knew that I wanted to do it onna regular basis. He said with "a good sharp pen knife, a blister sharp curved exacto blade" I was good to do what I "was fixin to learn."
Josephus (his handle among our little peer group) was a hoot and I miss him.
Aneee--hoo...pix of my little Sanderling who resides onna shelf in my front bathroom (wood unknown...he said basswood fuzzed and that he preferred a beginner learn on a semi-hardwood of some sort.)
"Not all those who wander are lost."
(J.R.R. Tolkein from Lord of the Rings..."Strider's Poem")