I guess every new carver falls into the trap of thinking they have to have "all" the right tools and just the right wood or they can't be a carver. I was that way myself. I have since found out that carving is not really about the tools. This post is to illustrate my point. The pictures above are of a softball. That's right, I said softball. I was walking in the park this morning and I came across an softball that had been knocked out of the park. I guess the reason it had not been retrieved was because the hide had been torn by the last batter. You can't use it to play with anymore so I guess they just left it. Then I come along. A fledgling carver with not much money to buy wood. Add to that, the fact that I had just watched Gene Messer's YouTube videos on carving a golf ball. other than size there are alot of similarities between a golf ball and a soft ball. They both have a cover, and a soft core. So out came my trusty "Case" pocket knife and in about 30 minutes this guy was looking back at me. The rest is history and imagination!
Carving a softball is fun because it is made of hard "foam" which carves very easily. You still need to have a sharp knife however, because if you aren't careful the foam will tear instead of carve. It is a bit larger than a golf ball which makes it easier for some.
Painting is another subject. Since it is foam you must be careful not to put too much paint on at one time or it will soak up into places where you don't want the color to be. Be careful about how much you thin your paints. Having done this one, I think I would try to "seal" the foam before painting another one. Might help control the paint more.
The point is, I didn't go to the park looking for carving inspiration or material. But a carver always has carving on his/her mind. It seems these days I am either carving, or thinking about it. What do you have laying around the house that others would consider trash? Could you carve it? Maybe its not wood. Why should that stop you? GO FOR IT!