Building a Carousel Animal

I was fascinated with the actual process of creating the Albany Carousel Project. Each animal hand carved from wood, painted with great care and detail–and largely by volunteers with little or no art background.

The main mechanism for the new carousel  had been donated by the Dentzel family, whose grandfather first brought the carousel to American in the 1800s.  It is stored in a farmer’s barn nearby, waiting for the new figures to be completed.  The music mechanism is there, too.

An antique music apparatus is displayed in the workshop museum, along with some of

the first carousel horses carved by the Dentzels in the 19th century.  The horse on the right has been restored and repaired.  It was carved in 1895.

The first step in creating a brand new carousel animal was to decide which kind of animal was to be selected, and to get the design approved.  This part was the privilege of the donor of the sculpture.  Three different sizes were available.  After this was done, the wood was ordered and brought in.

Then, a master drawing was made to scale.

Blocks of linden wood are fastened together for larger pieces, as in the lion below left.  Smaller sections are carved separately, as these pieces of a unicorn show on the right.  Each figure is carefully engineered to allow for ease of future assembly and a smooth fit.


First they are roughly shaped out.  Next they are sanded, fine details are added, and then they are sanded some more to a smooth perfection.


They are put together with wooden dowels.

The animal is painted with a coat of oil-based paint as a base.

Colors and details are added with oil paint.  The paint is allowed to dry thoroughly for 6 months.


The final step is the application of a highly glossy finish that was developed for automobiles.  The colors are brilliant and beautiful.  Every detail is crafted by hand with love and imagination, to bring joy and laughter to children of all ages.  It takes 2 1/2 to 3 years to complete each animal sculpture.


About reinkat

I am an iconographer, and have been studying Russian/Greek icons since 1995. I'm married with 3 children. I love hiking, camping, animals, my family and church--and icons.
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2 Responses to Building a Carousel Animal

  1. It’s a very good job. Congratulations.

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