Clawing Away at HDU with Custom Wood Carvings

Switching from the loud and fast paced streets of Chicago to the quiet rural woods of Northern Maine is a huge change, and a welcome one for a recent client of Custom Wood Carvings. Known for its lush forests and ample backwoods, the countryside of Northern Maine is an outdoorsman’s paradise known for being serene and peaceful. The client asked Kris Connors, owner of Custom Wood Carvings to design a realistic sculpture featuring bears in a canoe to help him leave the city atmosphere in the dust and embrace his beautiful new home in the country.

Kris started out sketching bears in different positions, sizes, and facial expressions, until he found the perfect fit. He decided to use 6lb CORAFOAM® HDU to create the bears, because the canoe needed to be mounted on a wall and he needed a lightweight material that held detail and was easy to carve. 

After bonding the blocks of HDU together, Kris used a small chainsaw to carve out the rough shape of the bears. The spectacular finish was added using a dremel and various woodworking tools, while the realistic looking fur on the bears was done using the side wheel of an electric sander. The bears ranged from 44” tall to the smallest was about 30” tall all sitting in a 12ft canoe that was custom made to fit this project. 

After hand-sanding the lamination lines out, it was time to prime and paint. Because of the ultra-smooth surface of the CORAFOAM® HDU, he was able to use only a single coat of primer. The bears were then painted black using Benjamin Moore’s acrylic paint and, finished with a satin spray paint to make them appear realistic.

According to Kris, “I like using CORAFOAM® HDU because it is much easier to work with than other materials and especially in this project, the light weight of the CORAFOAM® HDU made it easy for installation. The whole thing only weighted about 60lbs!”

Kris Connors started working at his first sign shop while in high school. He went on to Major in liberal art and became a high school art teacher. While teaching, he created his own sculpting and dimensional signage shop, Custom Wood Carvings based out of Connecticut. He began advertising and marketing himself through social media, YouTube, his website and by word of mouth. 5 years ago he was able to quit teaching focus on his business full time! Now he is creating sculptures and 3D signs for customers around the world. He is in the process of moving his shop to Nickelville,Virginia, but continues to work on projects during the transition. 

Stay up to date with his current projects at:   and

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