What Wood Would You Use?
Seasoning is important, too. Fresh wood will have a high moisture content, making it difficult to detail. Drying the wood artificially could make it too brittle. It's best to allow it to air dry until much of it's natural sap has dissipated, about like good fire wood.
What to Carve?
Finishes for Wood Sculpture
Using these guidelines and some experimentation, you can see what works best for you.