Looking for inspiration? Then maybe a figure carving is for you. These fine figures are to be seen on the sea
front at Geelong in Victoria Australia. The figure heads were photographed on Tresco Isles of Scilly and The Cutty Sark Greenwich
Shropshire Woodcarvers celebrate their 25th Birthday in happier times
New Member Information
We welcome new members to join us at any time. We encourage those wishing to take up woodcarving to come for four taster sessions before making a decision on whether to join the group. We will provide the first piece of limewood and set you off on an initial project for which you will be able to use the club carving tools. If you would like to come along to a taster session please email us at email@example.com and we will endeavour to arrange your first taster session with us!
Currently 23 people have signed up for membership of our renamed group.
Still seeking inspiration then why not have a go at an abstract carving. The examples shown are by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore and were photographed at St Ives Cornwall and the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
MICK PRICE REKINDLES HIS MOTIVATION TO CARVE BY TAKING A WALK INTO THE WOODS OF HIS CHILDHOOD
Having decided to look for a stick to carve into a wand, my mind turned to a wood with the potential to supply a good source of suitable material. Having lived near a very beautiful wood for most of my childhood and still living about five miles away, the choice of Nesscliffe hill was a no brainer. My friends and I were so lucky to live in Nesscliffe and to have the run of the hill when it was privately owned by Lord Bradford, if we saw someone else on the hill in those days it was a big event. We roamed that hill literally day and night, and we got to know every inch of it. Climbing to the top of young spruce trees and swinging them until we could reach the next in line, for hours. Running along what we called the ledges on the cliffs below Oliver’s point, which were in fact thick tree roots clinging to the sandstone, and if you fell, well the leaf mould usually broke your fall. We also had access to the highwayman’s cave in those days and would race up and down the worn steps whenever we wanted.
But look at it now, having been bought by Shropshire Council in the nineteen nineties it’s become overcrowded, littered, muddy and the cave sealed off. It was a wonder to see where the highwayman Humphrey Kynaston lived when he wasn’t propping up the bar of the Old Three Pigeons. To see where Kynaston’s horse slept, his hearth still smoke stained five hundred odd years later and his carved shelving can only to be seen in a book now. Don’t get me wrong the hill is still a beautiful place and well worth a visit, you can wonder at the carved names of the old sandstone workers thirty metres up the rock faces of the old quarry as sharp as ever. But take my advice, get to the hill about ten o clock in the morning on a week day, after the early morning dog walkers have gone.
As a reminder to me of my advancing years I can remember them planting the Dawn Redwoods (Metasequoia Glyptostroboides - try saying that after a couple of pints or three) on the lower slopes near the car park it’s amazing how big a tree can grow after fifty years. They are magnificent now and still only babies unlike yours truly.
So anyway my walk begins, past the Dawn Redwoods on the lower slopes then into the beech woods, the beeches are into old age now, many have dead branches that can be a good source of fallen logs for carving. The grove used to be a lot thicker but many trees have fallen in high winds. Don’t know what the wardens would say if they saw you with the wood, I must find out. A stiff but short climb to the top, I used to run up it, brings you to a grassed area - this was a summer playground for Lord Bradford where he would hold large summer tea parties for his London friends. Then along the path to the right towards an area I know well, you pass under arches of Rhododendron Ponticum and this is the area I’m looking to find my stick. The hill is thick with Rhododendrons at this point, they grow out over the cliffs and are massive and dense, we used to walk over the tops of them for fun until a friend fell through, luckily the leaf mould cushioned his decent down the cliffs in one piece, a fifty foot slide. My mate Rob Harris, a lucky boy but winded.
You may ask why choose this spot, well Rhododendron is a wood that grows in many strange and contorted ways, loops, twists, strange angles, just what I’m looking for. It’s also called the spoon makers friend, especially if you are looking to carve a ladle as you need the grain to extend around a bend - just what the Rhododendron does in spades. The strange twists in the wood may give me inspiration for my wand, fingers crossed. The wood is not poisonous but the flowers are, people have become very unwell from eating honey from bees foraging on the flowers, buyer beware. There has been a concerted effort on the hill in recent years to eradicate the rhododendrons mostly because they are invasive but also because they are a vector species for root rot (Phytophthora) and a reservoir of future reinfections. I’m afraid it’s a losing battle at the moment as they just spring up from old roots or seed. There are plenty of cut branches about and as I’ve mentioned they are trying to eradicate the rhododendrons so I do not feel guilty about collecting a few branches.
Below is a photo of a piece of wood I collected to create a ladle, I couldn’t find anything suitable for a wand so I shall be looking for a blackthorn hedge and hope for the best.
Go to the gallery page for current action - Carvings in progress, Our work spaces, Tips and Advice
STEWART'S APPROACH TO LETTERING
The wall cried out for a dado but I wanted to do something a bit quirkier. Over a period of a couple of years the idea of a catch-phrase developed and, after a couple of my more risqué proposals were rejected, the wording in the photograph was approved.
The staircase is in oak so the choice of timber was easy but, before buying the wood, I wrote it all out, full size, on a piece of cardboard and we taped it to the wall for a few days to make sure that we had the proportions right. After a few adjustments I had the confidence to buy the oak. I had already identified the font from Microsoft Word and used the printer to get the right sizes, stuck them onto the wood, clamped it to the bench, sharpened the tools and, put my inhibitions to one side and got carving.
I have Chris Pye’s book on lettering which is extremely helpful and I have also a good few years ago, had lettering tuition from Mike Painter. They both use entirely different but highly effective methods of carving letters and my resulting style is a mish-mash of both plus a bit of my own. A technique of Chris Pye’s that I did stick with was to use an initial “stab-cut” down the centre of the letter stems before cutting the sloping sides of the letters. This relieves the stress on the wood as you are cutting the sloping sides and give space for the waste oak to move into thus making a cleaner cut. I did all of the straight cuts first and then reverted to the bull nosed gouges to produce the curves.
Patience is a key because the last thing you want to do is make a mistake on the last word. With all of the other things that were going on in in our lives, it took me about a month from the first cut to putting it onto the wall.
How Wood Carving Can Give You Mindfulness
Article passed on by Bob Svendsen secretary of the Western Australian Guild of Woodcarvers
Life can get a bit much at times. Occasionally, you just need to find something to take your mind off all the worries and give yourself a deserved break from life’s travails. It doesn’t help that this can stunt your creativity when you may well need it to move forward in life.
Thursday and Saturday carving workshops are cancelled for the foreseeable future due to Covid 19 precautions
View the contributions to Stewart's Freedom carving challenge set at the beginning of the first lockdown in March. Further contributions welcome
This end piece comes from the Western Australian Guild of Carvers most recent copy of Chips courtesy of Bob Svendsen October 2020
Ready to snap?
Life can get a bit much at times. Occasionally, you just need to find something to take
your mind off all the worries and give yourself a deserved break from life’s travails. It
doesn’t help that this can stunt your creativity when you may well need it to move forward
One way you can achieve this is by picking up a piece of wood and decent knife and
begin carving. If you didn’t know it already; there is something about creative activities
that will place you in a relaxed zone and clear your mind of stressful thoughts.
Woodworking or wood carving can be described as a “Whole-Brain” activity as it
makes use of both the practical side of your brain in trying to realise what the creative
mind has come up with. Also described as a state of “Flow” by psychologist
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi , a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge,
whilst using your body to make it happen.
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