Snowman in toque, tree ornament.
This is the first two of my 2015 tree ornaments. I whittled them from bass wood using a limited assortment of very sharp knives. There will be small black bits of wood for eyes and a tiny carrot for a nose to finish off the faces.
If I get the figures carved properly they don't need to be sanded before painting. I give the projects at least two coats of shellac to seal the wood before painting. When the wood has been sealed it takes fewer coats of paint to get good coverage. As you know, between coats of shellac the wood needs to be sanded, easy on large flat surfaces, a pain on little things like this.
My solution when dealing with small carvings or scroll saw pieces is a wire brush instead of fiddly bits of sand paper.
I am careful not to be too aggressive while brushing and I have found it much easier to get into the tiny cracks and textures of small pieces with a brush than with sand paper.
It is nice when a solution is easy and cheap.