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Teaching woodcarving to individuals and small groups at their homes or at my beautiful studio in Bristol

Individual Tuition

As well as giving tuition to larger groups and at schools, I really enjoy teaching individuals and small groups in my own workshop. It’s great to see what people choose to make when given the timber and tools and a chance to have a go.

teaching woodcarving in Bristol

They also get the chance to learn with a qualified and insured tutor who is one of the most experienced carvers currently working in the area. I am experienced in and can teach all kinds of carving, large or small scale.

Woodcarving tuition in BristolLearners can use a wide variety of my own tools; from tiny gouges, through knives and axes to power tools. I try to give the important information that allows someone to be able to buy and maintain their own tools and continue carving at home.

If you have a woodcarving idea, I can probably help you to make it.

 

 

 

Will Barsley spent two days learning with me in 2013. He is now studying woodcarving at the City and Guilds College in London and writing about carving in publications and on his blog. Will has thanked me for the tuition that started him on his career, saying:

‘Thank you so much for today and last week for that matter. 
Have really enjoyed the lessons and is so nice to have the opportunity to work with all your tools. ‘

‘you were my first tutor and really helped stoke the fire of my interest in becoming a wood carver.’

Will Barsley wood carving

 

teaching woodcarving for a stag do

Teaching carving for a stag do

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.

stag do woodworking

The others learned how to carve relief carvings in oak using a variety of traditional tools.

woodcarving

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.

green man

teaching woodcarving at schools in Bristol

Teaching carving to young people

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.

 

 

Lawrence weston city farm

 

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.

 

Teaching woodcarving to children and young people

 

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.

 

teaching young people woodcarving in Bristol

green woodworking course bristol

Carving, green and general woodworking classes

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.

 

green woodworking and carving in Bristol

 

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.

 

Bristol woodworking classes

Woodcarving with an adult group at Tree life centre, Bristol

Woodcarving classes for adult groups

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!).

 

teaching woodcarving to adults and young people for LinkAge

 

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.

 

Teaching woodcarving in St Annes Park, Bristol

 

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.

 

Teaching at my studio

 

working with young people with learning difficulties

Teaching People with Learning Difficulties

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!

 

Teaching young people with learning difficulties

 

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.

 

teaching woodcarving in Bristol

Teaching woodcarving in Bristol

It’s always interesting to see what different students want from tutored woodcarving sessions and adapting my teaching to them. Some people like to be shown a few particular techniques and then to get on with practising them with some guidance if needed, whereas others want to try as many different things as possible in the day.

Both are fun be a part of, of course. My session of tuition with Katya was definitely the latter and it was the first taught session in my lovely new workshop. I really enjoyed using some tools again that I don’t use that frequently and discussing how to use them too.

One great thing about teaching one-to-one is that learners can use some of the power tools that I’d sometimes be wary of bringing out with a group. When things go wrong with power tools they can go wrong very quickly, so I like to be able to keep a close eye on things.

 


I wouldn’t usually teach people to use certain tools such as chainsaws or Arbortechs in carving as they are potentially so dangerous to inexperienced users (or experienced ones!). Tools such as the scroll saw are a lot less aggressive and so I’m happy to use that occasionally.

 


Katya wanted to make some wooden frames for embroidered pieces that she had produced. First of all, I showed her how to use a panel saw (below) and a coping saw (first photo) properly. Cutting accurately by hand with a saw is a skill that anyone using wood should know. Electric saws are great, but occasionally only a hand saw can be used (when there’s no electricity available, for example).

 

 

Katya was very happy with the piece that she produced using the scroll saw:

 

 

We also tried using a Dremel hand drill, an electric powered wood lathe and an electric drill. It was the first time that Katya had used any of them but I think that by the end of the session, the scroll saw was still the favourite! She also kindly let me use her photos in this blog post.

old elf

Wise old elf 2015

This character was carved as part of a project in Bristol, working with a professional storyteller and a local school to create wooden panels that form a storytelling trail through the school grounds.

In July 2015, I was invited to carve oak pictures as part of a project at St Chad’s primary school in Patchway, Bristol. The school was looking to get the pupils to generate their own stories.

Storyteller Martin Maudsley worked with them to create tales which were then told to me. I used the five stories to produce images that were then carved into oak plaques, which were set onto larch plinths in a small woodland in the school grounds.

 

storytelling trail carved wooden panels

 

One plaque tells a story about a storytelling dragon that befriends a village. At first, the villagers are advised by a little girl to turn their backs, to stop them being frightened by the dragon.

 

wood carving of a dragon talking to people

 

Another shows a person who is helped by birds to plant a magic garden. The small squares are caps of oak covering the stainless steel screws that hold the plaques firmly onto the larch plinths.

 

storytelling

 

This story is about a secret garden hidden by ancient trees, which is uncovered by reciting the magic words.

 

storytelling trail

 

This plaque shows an old elf called the ‘Father of the Forest’. The surrounding leaves are all from trees that grow in the small woodland that the trail winds through.

 

old elf

 

oak relief carving

 

Finally there is a story about St Chad (a Saxon boy) and the people he meets on his adventures.

 

relief carving of St Chad

 

I also made some benches from durable larch timber, for children to sit on and make up their own stories (or just play!)

 

benches made from larch

Part of the project also involved carving a panel live at Patchway community festival in Bristol, which was a lot of fun and meant that I also got to meet some of the parents whose children go to St Chads.

Carving at Patchway festival

 

Carved panels using braille 2016

These oak panels, featuring braille as part of their design, are part of a permanent installation at the Brunel building in Southmead hospital – a major healthcare facility in Bristol.

Initially, the commission was to make an artwork that would include words and phrases chosen by patient’s knitting and writing groups as being important to them. As part of the making process there also had to be an opportunity for patients, visitors and staff to try their hand at carving parts of it during two hospital open days.

 

woodcarving the braille panel at Southmead hospital

 

On visiting Southmead, I realised that most wall-hung artworks there didn’t really give much opportunity for blind or partially-sighted people to interact with them. They were mainly prints behind glass.

Working with guidance from local braille users, together with organisations and blind artists from around the country (particularly Alan Michael Rayner), I designed a touch sculpture that also includes braille as a fundamental part. The Bristol Braillists group were particularly helpful with this area of the project. Paul and Hazel from the group even visited my workshop to give help and advice on the design.

 

making a sculpture for blind people

 

Eventually, the installation developed into three panels. The largest one shows the patient’s groups knitting and writing, together with a carver (who might that be?). The knitting, writing and carving is spilling off the table to become a landscape with the important words and phrases written on it. In the top right-hand corner are well-known buildings in Bristol. Above it all is a description in braille, made from brass pins that have been fixed into the oak.

 

braille woodcarving

 

The second panel shows a much smaller version of the main panel (a bit bigger than A4 size), with different features labelled in braille. This was suggested by Camilla at Living Paintings, who pointed out that blind people can get ‘lost’ when feeling their way through a large area. This small orientation panel allows visitors who are using touch to work out where they are going on the larger artwork.

 

braille on woodcarving

 

The third panel is a key to Grade one braille, so that sighted visitors who would like to work out what the braille on the other panels says can do so. There are several types of braille, with grade one being the simplest – a letter-by-letter translation. This inspired some discussion about whether it was the best form to use, as most British braillists use Grade two braille which is quicker to type out and to read. However, most users felt that people who weren’t so confident in reading braille and those from other countries would find this form easier to understand.

 

grade one braille key

 

Once the panels had been fitted in March 2016, the installation was unveiled by the Chief Executive of NHS South-west, Andrea Young. She is standing in the centre of the photo below with Ruth, the arts director for Southmead, standing to the left of the picture. It was great to see that Paul and Hazel, who had helped in the design, could make it to the unveiling too.

 

south mead hospital braille artwork

 

I really appreciated the opportunity to explore new ways of interaction with public carved sculpture but also being given the chance to find out more, as a sighted person, about how blind and partially sighted people interact with the world around them. I hope that the things learnt can be incorporated into future projects and thank you to everyone who generously gave their time to help me with practical advice and suggestions.