For those who may not know what a ‘stag do’ is, it is a tradition in Britain for a man who is about to be married to get together with his friends (usually, but not always, male) and have a party. The ‘hen do’ is the woman’s equivalent. They are often marked by a lot of drinking!
As a twist on the usual festivities, one group came to my studio to learn to how to carve. Two people learned how to use axes, knives, drawknives and other green woodworking tools to make spoons.
The others learned how to carve relief carvings in oak using a variety of traditional tools.
I thought that it was a really nice idea, getting together to learn new skills with friends at this time. Everyone seemed very happy with the work that they produced too. If this idea appeals to you, feel free to get in touch.
I’ve taught woodcarving and woodworking skills to groups of children and young people for many years and really enjoy seeing them learning the practical skills involved, so that they can use the tools in a safe and efficient way.
Previous groups have included youth clubs, schools, young people with learning difficulties and groups who were having problems at school as well as passing children in parks and festivals. Pretty much all possible kinds of young learner!
I also hold an enhanced DBS check, as well as being a trained forest school leader.
Previous commissions have also included cutting up pieces of a beloved oak tree that had to be felled at Braishfield primary school in Hampshire, then teaching the pupils and staff to carve their own artworks to take home using the timber.
I also spent four and a half years working with disengaged young people and groups with learning difficulties at the Boiling Wells nature reserve run by St Werburghs City Farm in Bristol. We covered a huge range of skills, ranging from firelighting and traditional woodcarving to designing and building new structures on site.
I have over twenty two years of carving experience and have been teaching woodworking classes to people of all ages for over ten of them. It feels great to share my passion for and knowledge of the subject with others. I have experience in teaching not only woodcarving, but also the specialist skills needed to work with unseasoned ‘green’ wood as well as more general carpentry and joinery techniques.
The picture above shows one of several green woodworking courses that I ran at Boiling Wells in Bristol, in partnership with St Werburghs City farm and with funding from the Radcliffe Trust.
Nowadys, I often teach one-off days rather than courses, for groups of six to eight people at a time. Learners will be taught so much in the day that it is frequently enough!
Unlike some other tutors, I don’t just teach what is needed to make a particular object. Instead, lessons focus on what tools to buy, where to get them, how to use them safely and efficiently and how to keep them sharp, if necessary. That way, if a student wants to continue after the session, they have all the knowledge and skills to do so in whichever direction they choose. Get in touch if you’d like more information.
I’m a qualified teacher in the Lifelong Learning sector and have taught woodcarving and woodworking skills to adult groups in all kinds of situations. Over more than ten years, these have included; festival goers (including at Glastonbury and the Green Gathering), corporate groups, the NHS, private tuition sessions and also working in partnership with community organisations.
Venues have ranged from muddy fields to my own studio in Bristol with the participants ranging in age from 18 to over 80 years old ( I can’t be more specific as it seemed rude to ask!).
This project was run in collaboration with the Wild City Project and LinkAge in Bristol. A group of local people, including disengaged young people and older volunteers, worked together successfully to produce a carved wooden bench that was installed in a local nature reserve.
Several groups that I’ve worked with have included a range of ages. In workshops for Bristol City Council’s ‘Learning Communities‘ project in the St Annes Park area of Bristol, participants were encouraged to bring their children along and together they carved noticeboards.
If you are interested in learning woodcarving, green woodworking or other woodworking skills with a group of adults or with participants who are a range of ages, then get in contact with me.
Quite a few carvings that I have made were for a particularly lovely reason: to say thanks. Sometimes they were for people who were leaving a job or other role, sometimes they were just for valued friends.
Sometimes, I’m asked to carve inscriptions on unusual objects which are to be given as gifts. Perhaps the most out-of-the-ordinary was this garden fork. Unlike many computer-controlled engraving machines, I can carve directly onto irregular and curved surfaces so there was no problem making it and then painting the image. In fact, it was a fun challenge to undertake!
Some people also want me to make gifts out of timber from trees that have had to be cut down. This plaque was carved out of wood from a much-loved cedar tree, for someone who was retiring from their job. I had to carefully cut up and join pieces of the timber in a very particular way, to ensure that the sculpture would last well indoors. It didn’t only require carving skills but also a good knowledge of joinery and how different timbers move as they season.
Some projects need a bit less letter cutting and a bit more artistic design, as with this plaque that was given to someone who was moving away from Bristol after many years living in the city. He loved the place and this illustration shows the ‘Matthew’ (a replica of John Cabot’s famous ship, which the recipient used to volunteer on) sailing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge, heading towards the Avon Gorge and then out towards the sea. Do you recognise the poem? It is the first two lines of ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield.
I’ve carved signs for schools and community groups all over the country. Most are made from oak but if you would like to use another kind of timber, I’d be more than happy to advise on its suitability for whatever purpose you have in mind. I also have the relevant checks in place to come and install it, if you wish.
Signs can be finished with wax (if destined to be installed indoors), varnish or finishing oils. I can tell you more about the best one to use for a particular project when you contact me. For more information, please feel free to get in touch.
Memorial carvings have been some of the most touching ones that I have produced. Making a piece to remember somebody who is no longer with us is obviously not always a happy thing, but seeing how moved their friends and family are by it can be very rewarding as well. This plaque was installed in a school in Bristol to remember a former pupil who loved nature and I felt quite lucky that his mum and his friends were there to see it installed.
Sometimes, the piece of wood to be used is supplied and it can be an unusual shape, which many computer-controlled engraving machines wouldn’t be able to deal with. For me, it’s just an interesting challenge. One example would be this oak ball, which was to be used as the stopper on a carafe.
I’m also frequently asked to provide inscriptions on the work of other makers. The very talented furniture maker Sue Darlison needed a carving on one of her stunning benches and asked me if I could do it. I was more than happy to. The name and the inspiration for the design came from the lovely smile of the person who was being remembered.
I’ve previously worked with both young people and adults with learning difficulties. I worked with adult learners through an organisation called ‘Treedom’ (teaching woodworking skills) and for Bristol City Council teaching their Foundation arts and crafts course. I really enjoyed both jobs and meeting the people that I worked with, some of whom were great characters and a lot of fun to spend time with!
I have also worked with several groups of young people with learning difficulties at St Werburghs City Farm in Bristol and found it not only a lot of fun, but also very rewarding. Getting them to work together to achieve some really good results was great to see.
If you have a project in mind involving working with people who have learning difficulties, I’d love to hear from you. I also hold an enhanced DBS check.
This exhibition is perhaps closest to my heart as I initiated the whole thing, was the main organiser and exhibited with fourteen other artists. It was a success, with approximately 700 visitors in 6 days! It took two years to gather all of the exhibitors together and, when we opened in August 2008, they had created some really interesting and thought-provoking work. The group went on to show twice again, with some lineup changes, at ‘Meta anatomica’ and ‘Metamarine’.