As well as this blog, I also have a website with lots more images of my work as well as a few more stories.
If you like woodcarvings, you'll want to have a look.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Memorial plaque for Bailey's Court school

I went to Bailey's Court primary school in Bradley Stoke, Bristol, today to install the oak plaque which I was asked to make to commemorate a boy who went there called Ryan.
Some of the children helped me to fix it onto a log which had been set into the ground there. It is next to a beautiful bog garden and pond (which had a frog in it!). I also had the chance to meet Ryan's mum. It was great to hear that she and everyone else liked the plaque very much. I'm sure that Ryan would also have loved the garden that has been created in his memory.



Baileys Court primary school have a website, which you can see by clicking here

Monday, 24 September 2012

Tutoring, Brisfest and a giant scorpion near Pucklechurch village

A real mix of stuff going on last week. As well as continuing to work on the totem pole commission, I ran a one-to-one woodcarving tuition session for a client at my studio, with all tools and materials supplied. We covered creating a clay maquette to work from, through to roughing out the final carving.


Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to finish the carving in a day, but Francis told me that he felt the session had gone well and he'd learnt a lot about carving and thinking in three dimensions, which was what it was all about! It went well enough that I'm considering running more one-to-one tutorials at my studio in the future, if there is enough interest.

The next day, I loaded my bike trailer and headed out to run a day-long drop in workshop on a new section of cycle path near to the village of Pucklechurch. The day went really well and was organised by the brilliant Rachel Goodchild from Art Express (there is a link to their site here) . The sun was shining and quite a few people had the chance to try their hand at woodcarving, so that the carved board was finished by the end of the day. The plan is to use it as a backrest for a bench, which I will be carving soon. Watch this space!



The carved board shows a scene from a Carboniferous-period swamp, about 300 million years ago. There are coal seams in the area around Pucklechurch, which were formed from material laid down in ancient swamps like this. The animals living in these swamps included giant scorpions 70 cm (about 28 inches) long, giant dragonflies with 60 cm (2 foot) wingspans and Arthropleura, a huge ancestor of centipedes which grew to about 260 cm (8.5 feet) long! Some of these giants were shown in the scene that we carved...







From Pucklechurch, I headed over to 'Brisfest', a two-day music festival held in Ashton Court, Bristol. I'm a member of the Forest of Avon Wood Products cooperative, which promotes local, sustainable timber use. We had a stall at the festival and it was great fun spending time with other woodworking friends.
Sunday at the festival was pretty wet, as you can see from the rain streaks in the uppermost photo below. Even so, seeing De La Soul live made up for it!



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Stoke Park 'Woodland Celebration' and totem pole carving


Last Sunday, I ran workshops in Stoke Park, Bristol carving pendants. This is the same park where we built fire pits and benches last month (see previous posts). Although it was the first day out for my new gazebo, the rain held off and everyone seemed to really enjoy making their pendants.


Apart from this, I'm still working hard on the totem pole commission. The pole has moved into the woodshed, so that I can work on it when it's raining as well.



I have also made a clay model for the portrait that is to go at the top of the pole. It's difficult to carve someone that you've never met, using only printouts of a few reference photos, but hopefully having the clay maquette will help me to get a reasonable likeness. Of course, the final face will have ears and a normal amount of hair - this model was important to understand how the parts of the face alone relate to each other.




Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Totem antics and a finished baton



The weather has been great here for most of the last few days, so I took the opportunity to get a lot of work done on the totem pole commission. It's coming along well, just needing more work on the portrait head at the top. I've really enjoyed getting to grips with carving a larger piece in green larch, which is a tricky wood to work with and demands practice and very sharp tools.



Owl, waiting for it's carved, outstretched wings to be attached...


Horse...




Trout, with bubbles...


Initials and date of birth...

















...and some parasol mushrooms at the bottom (my favourite edible mushroom).

Today also saw the catch being fitted to the birthday baton. It is now finished! The box is made from oak with brass fittings. For more information about it, please see the previous post.




Thursday, 6 September 2012

Birthday baton, Bailey's Court memorial and a totem pole

Lots going on at the moment!

I'm finishing off a special oak box for a friend of mine. She's coming up to her 30th birthday and has had the idea to get a 'birthday baton' made.This is a container for a scroll, which is to be passed from one person on their 30th birthday to another. Each person will write thoughts or comments as they come up to this landmark birthday on the scroll, which is then passed to the next person whose birthday it is. The previous birthday person has to visit the next to pass the baton over and they will not all know each other. They will also be dotted about all over the place.
Hopefully some interesting stories will come out of the project and Jess wants to make an exhibition about it all when it is completed. She came over to have a look at the box today and brought her Polaroid camera - possibly the coolest camera I have ever had in my studio!


I have also finished making a memorial plaque which will go in a wildlife garden at Bailey's Court school in Bristol. It is in memory of a boy called Ryan who attended the school.
The piece of wood measures 12 inches (30cm) square and is 2 inches (5 cm) thick. The central hole will be used to hide a coach screw used to fix the plaque to an embedded log. It will then be hidden with an oak cap. My friend Simon Nugent, a very talented furniture maker, donated the beautifully figured Sussex oak used in this project.
I hope that Ryan would have approved of the slugs and bugs carved around the message in the centre.



A 'Painted lady' butterfly


a slug


A two-spotted ladybird


...and a moth hiding amongst the wood patterning

Apart from these projects, today also saw carving begin on a totem pole, which I have been commissioned to make for someone in Hampshire (who I will not name, as it is to be a surprise!) 
The totem pole will be 10 feet high and carved from British-grown European larch, which is fairly durable stuff. Today's roughing-out carving involved using an Arbortech, a disc with chainsaw-like teeth that fits onto an angle grinder. It is a fairly terrifying, if useful, bit of kit that has to be very well respected!


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Stoke Park benches finished- the first piece of public furniture for Lockleaze's new(ish) park


Last week, the project to build benches at Stoke Park was completed. Thanks to the hard work of the local young people who volunteered, the area looks great and will hopefully be enjoyed by local park users for a long time.


Steve also brought in a very interesting find from a river in nearby Snuff Mills to show me - a horse's tooth from the last Ice Age. These horses are now extinct. You can find out more about it here: Horse tooth