Whether it’s a new wooden house or business sign or a thank you gift for someone who is retiring, I can make it. I don’t just carve signs though; many businesses have used my services before, as well as other organisations such as community groups and charities, to commission one-off gifts and promotional items.
Signs are usually carved from oak that has come from sustainable forestry and finished with varnish, wax (for indoor use) or finishing oil, depending on which you prefer. I can also carve and paint any design that you would like to accompany the text and am able to carve using a large range of different fonts and styles. If you would like more information about what designs, timbers and finishes are suitable for the project that you have in mind, contact me to have a chat about it.
I can also make carvings from special pieces of timber, such as well-loved trees that have been cut down. The sunflower carving above was made using cedar from a tree that originally grew in the grounds of the headquarters for the cancer charity Penny Brohn UK. It came to me as an unseasoned log that had to be cut up and carefully joined to form the panel. When making it, the design had to account for any movement in the wood during seasoning.
This oak carving was made for a pub in Shropshire. The ‘Jack of Corra’ is a kind of old drinking vessel, and the spelling of ‘immemorial’ is exactly as the client wanted it.
The carving was from a design supplied by the customer and was carved in very low relief, as it was to be installed on a bar and so would be vulnerable to potential knocks.
If you have a particular picture that you’d like on your sign, I can carve and paint that too. This house sign includes a portrait of their cat:
…and if you are wondering what the writing in Greek on the house sign with the carved and painted hibiscus flower means, it translates as ‘House of flowers’.
This little figure is about 3 centimetres (1 and 1/8″) tall.
The piece was carved using my Opinel lock knife in 1998, utilising wood from a fallen tree in the garden of the house in which I was living at the time.
The house was in Sparkhill, an area of Birmingham.
It is still one of my favourite carvings.
In early 2000, I spent some time living on the Canary Islands. The area was arid semi-desert and prickly pear cactus (Opuntia sp.) grew abundantly. The fruits were edible and delicious, but the small, hair-like spines that grew in clusters on them were very painful if they pierced the skin, as well as being very hard to see when trying to remove them.
Image from: http://landscapingchennai.com/nutritional-value-of-cactus-fruit/
I therefore carved a pair of cactus fruit eating tools to safely eat these fruit. They came in extremely useful!
The pronged tool would be pushed into the fruit, then twisted to remove it from the plant. The sharp-edged spoon end of the other tool was used to slice open and peel away the skin of the fruit. The scoop- shaped other end of this tool was then used to gouge out any remaining tufts of hair-like spines. The fruit could be held on the pronged tool and eaten using the spoon-like other tool. Juice ran away down a slit in the pronged tool, which was shaped like a cactus flower.
I have been carving pendants since I first began whittling and woodcarving. For many years they gave me a chance to create work that required little in the way of tools (just my Opinel knife and some sandpaper) and could utilise little fragments and splinters of wood which were easy to carry in a backpack.
These pendants were carved to represent the seasons. the plants are ones which are particularly associated with each season in Britain. From the left, primroses come out in spring, bluebells in summer, blackberries in autumn and ivy stays green all through the winter.
This piece ws carved from a fragment of holm oak collected at a youth hostel in Oieras, Portugal (where this type of wood is known as azinho). The wood had been previously charred in a fire, which darkened and hardened it. The inset stone is a piece of calcite collected in a valley named San Pedro in Almeria, Spain where I was staying at the time. It was smoothed by rubbing against an old whetstone. The beautiful desert valley has a group of hippies and travellers living in it. This carving is so-called because it was carved on the beach at San Pedro on the first day of the new millennium.
Like all of these pendants, these ones were both carved using my four-inch bladed Opinel lock knife.
This detailed small sculpture shows a dragon lying around a small hill with a castle built onto it. There are towers, steps and even a waterfall. It was carved from strongly scented Camphor Laurel wood, which was used in China to make map cases and storage for clothes as it repels moths.
In Australia, the introduced tree is now quite invasive. This piece of timber was found in a firewood pile at a youth hostel in Byron Bay, New South Wales. I was working as a woodchopper for a place to stay – perhaps my ideal job at the time!
I started carving it while in Australia and continued working on and off on the sculpture for quite a while after returning to the UK.
This knife handle was carved for a commission in 2011. The buyer gave me his own designs and I carved them onto the beechwood handle of a number 10 Opinel lock knife. The handle is 10.5 cm (41/4″) long. As this was the type of knife with which I learnt to carve, it ws very exciting for me and the whole carving was done using my own Opinel, which is also shown here.
The knife at the top is the carved commission. It’s easy to see on this image how much metal had been sharpened off the blade of my knife over the previous 21 years- both blades would have once been the same size.
The blade of the knife to be carved was extended and wrapped in thick card, to give more to hold on to when working. Work in progress can be seen below.
…and here are two images of the completed handle, finished with a very light sanding and then linseed oil…
Here’s another, which was carved for a commission a couple of months later. The knife is an oak-handled EKA. The client drew a (very good) representation of his idea for me to carve, which includes his son’s initials, the sun and the moon.
The next knife handle was carved in New South Wales, Australia way back in 1997. It was made for a very talented Spanish leatherworker named Guille. In exchange for me carving a walnut-handled knife that belonged to him, he made a pouch for my carving knife (shown below). He loved Celtic designs and so the knife has a celtic-style dog’s head on the pommel, with eyes made from inlaid reindeer antler beads.
I still have the beautiful pouch that he made for me to this day but after leaving Byron Bay I never met Guille again.
Here are two images of his knife:
If you are interested in these then you might also like a more recent commission to carve a pagan ceremonial knife handle from oak, which is discussed in a separate post.
This knife handle was carved from oak that originally grew on the Quantock Hills in Somerset. It was commissioned by someone who intended to fix it onto a ceremonial blade for use in pagan rituals.
The Norse-style wolf’s head on the pommel of the handle is based on a piece of jewellery that the client particularly likes.
It was an interesting challenge to mark out the knot work accurately on the handle, as it sloped from the centre towards each end.
The grip was initially turned on a lathe, then the central hole drilled, the pommel was roughly shaped and then the knot work carved with a knife. I felt that this knife worked finish gave more of an authentically ‘Viking’ look to the whole thing and it was also very comfortable to hold, as the handle was held in my hand whilst whittling the different designs. I used a selection of carving gouges to produce the wolf’s head, as they suited the shapes that needed to be made more than a knife would have.
The oak was finished using tung oil, as it is more natural and contains less additives than many other finishes.
I have carved several other interesting knife handles. If you would like to see more, go to the page on Carved knife handles.