For his sculptures Bolling preferred female poplar because of its softness. All of his figures were carved with a basic tool kit consisting of several pocketknives, a scroll saw, and a vise. He drew the figure from two angles on paper and traced the cutout onto the wood along two faces. He roughed out the shape of the figure with a scroll saw and then used one of several ordinary pocketknives to carve the details. For portraits, Bolling emphasized the details of the face that individualized the subject. He generally applied a light wax to the sculptures, but he also painted several pieces.
Bolling carving Queen-of-Dreams. Credit: Harmon Foundation, Collection H, 1922-1967.
National Archives and Records Administration, Special Media Archives Service Division, College Park, Maryland.