I am a woodworker, this is my creative outlet of choice. I love designing and building furniture, but I also love the little personal things, that are fun to create. Things like signs, jewelry boxes, bird houses, frames, etc. At Christmastime, I love to give things I've made, if I can manage the time. One year I had visited a woodworking gallery with my girlfriend's parents. They had a lot of beautiful things there. Karen, my partner's mother, had expressed an interest in the napkin rings shaped like animals. They were basically flat cut outs of animals with a hole bored into them to hold a napkin. She said, "I'd love some napkin rings of whales, and if someone were to make them for me, I would need eight". This seemed like a pretty direct hint to me. She and her husband Jim had recently purchased a home on a cliff overlooking the Ocean in Northern California. They had to finish it, and they did so with natural maple moldings with cherry pegs. Even the kitchen was all cherry pegged maple. I decided to make the whales out of maple, with cherry pegs for eyes. I started by joining some maple planks together, then cut them into blocks. I designed them so the hole would not be through the whale, but where his tail would curl around to hold the napkin. I bored a napkin ring sized hole through the block, sketched out the shape of the whale, and then my girlfriend Elizabeth (who sanded a ton, and was a big help) and I, removed all the material that was not part of the whale. After we were done carving, we sanded them smooth, then waxed them. It was fun to do, and even more fun to give!