I visit my dad every week for woodcarving class, and this is what I've been working on for the past several weeks and finally finished. I'm going to give it to my brother and his wife for Christmas since they're planning on (eventually) building their own genuine castle to live in.
I carved it out of cottonwood bark using V- and U-shaped gouges and carving knives. Unfortunately I didn't have my camera with me when I started, so I don't have a "before" picture, but here are some in-progress shots.
(My apologies for the grody apartment carpet...)
More roughing out and starting on bricks:
The beginning of a window:
More brick work (this picture may or may not be upside-down):
Then I stopped taking pictures and just carved the rest. I tried to preserve a lot of the original bark because I like the texture and I thought the moss looked nifty. I wanted the tower to be sort of organically incorporated into the bark, almost like it grew from the tree.
This is my favorite window. I like how it's nestled down in a natural feature of the bark.
I worked REALLY HARD to keep that tiny scrap of moss on the top row of bricks.
I colored the windows in with a black marker to give them more depth and contrast.
Bits of the bark kept flaking off as I carved. The piece on the front edge of the roof used to stick out another quarter inch or so, but I think I like it better now that the sticky-out bit has broken off and it's more rounded.
The tower is 26 inches long from roof point to the bottom of the bark. I finished it with linseed oil on the bits I had carved, but I didn't oil the uncarved bark because I didn't want to ruin my precious moss.
I learned a lot while carving this piece. Let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for looking!