Barry Bates – Green Wood Carver


Barry is a minimalist.


All his work is carried out on this bench.   It breaks down into 3 legs and a top for transport.   The metal bar bent like a shepherds crook is a very effective clamp to hold wood on the bench top. He does have more tools than shown here, but not more than wood fit into one medium size work box.
Axe and block
With this minimum he showed us how to carve various types of spoons.   Apparently traditional spoons differ from country to country. ? It was suggested that the differing diets may have caused the difference in design

Barry in action

Here Barry is roughing out a spoon. and the blur in picture is due to the speed that the axe head was moving.

Barry with an British spoon.  The final shape is created with very sharp knives.    He spends more time than I do to achieve a higher degree of sharpness.     It involves rubbing the knife with reducing grits of wet and dry and a final buff on a strop.

Contact on


Thompson Dagnall

Thompson Dagnall carves wonderfully in wood and stone, usually on a big scale. He showed us pictures of some of his public art commissions. Just put Thomson Dagnall into a search engine and be prepared to be amazed.

Thompson Dagnall
This carving is typical of Thompson’s figure work, so life like and with so much vigour and movement.

Green timber solution

As Thompson uses green timber there is a high possibility of it splitting. Here he is showing us his solution to the problem; lots of holes bored into the base. If one bid hole had been made it was likely that there would not be enough strength in the wood to resist the power of the shrinkage.

Hair feather and fluffiness

Here Thompson is demonstrating his way of giving hair, feather, leaves fluffiness. The technique involves digging an extra deep hole to give extra darkness

The following pictures have been supplied by Richard Colbran

Brungerley Park Clitheroe

Brungerley Park Clitheroe










The first two are from , Brungerley Park Clitheroe where he was resident artist for one summer in 1993.

Outside a village shop in Slaidburn

From an exhibition of his work in Towneley Hall Burnley















From an exhibition of his work in Towneley Hall Burnley

From an exhibition of his work in Towneley Hall Burnley












From an exhibition of his work in Towneley Hall Burnley

Beacon Fell Country Park, near Chipping – Orme’s Eye, because if you stand at the back and look through the eye on a clear day, you can see Great Orme, near Llandudno.

Beacon Fell Country Park, near Chipping

A wren which he carved over 2 days at a Towneley Park Woodland Festival in 2004



To see more of his work go to Thompson Dagnall Sculptor, Wood Sculpture carvings Stone …

Christmas Zoom

History of wood carving – Ancient Egypt by John Adamson

This post was originally published in the now defunct British Woodcarvers Association’s magazine

During the time of the Pharaohs reigned in Egypt, 2500BC to 30BC, the materials from which tools could be made changed from stone, through copper, to bronze, and finally iron.  The usability of tools improved with the sustainability of a sharp edge.    However, the introduction of new metals did not necessarily mean the abandonment of older materials that were effective. Egyptians continued using copper chisels, flint scrapers, and in embalming work, exclusively stone blades. Available woodworking tool included:- axe, adze, chisel, bow drill, mallet awl, pull saw, vice, lathe, rule, set square, file, glue, and scraper.   It did not contain a plane and a stone was used to smooth the wood surface.   The earliest example of a plane is found at Pompeii and at other Roman sites.  The earliest gouge I can trace is also Roman.  The adze and the axe would seem to be the most useful tools for general shaping    

The Egyptians used a variety of wood. The wood came from native acacias, local sycamore, and tamarisk trees. However, when deforestation occurred in the Nile Valley in about the Second Dynasty, they began importing cedar, aleppo pine, boxwood, and oak from various parts of the Middle East and ebony from Egyptian colonies.   The dryness of the Egyptian tombs provided almost perfect preservation of wooden objects, sculptures, and furniture.  Woodcarving presumably progressed in line with the sustainable sharpness of the tools. 

Many ancient Egyptian drawings going back to 2000 B.C. depict wood furnishings such as beds, chairs, stools, tables, beds, and chests. There’s also physical evidence of these wooden objects, as many were found well-preserved in tombs due to the country’s dry climate. Even some sarcophagi (coffins) found in the tombs were crafted from wood.




























750 B.C. Mummy Mask
1991 B.C.    Butchers at work
1981 B.C.  Procession of offering bearers

Visit to Towneley Hall and Off Shoots

Back in August 2014, some 20 members and wives enjoyed a wonderful guided trip round Towneley Hall and Off Shoots Hall see followed by a visit to the Off Shoots.

Our guide round the hall took us into parts that normal visitors do not see and allowed us beyond the rope barriers.  The most entrancing object was this reredos attributed to an Antwerp sculptor of 1510-20.











We looked particularly at the bottom middle part “Taking down the cross”.   Being closer than normal and having a strong light shone on it we could (we think) see how it was carved. There are layers of carvings that had been carved separately and then joined to make the whole piece.  I had often suspected this but never been able to see the proof.

layers of carvings

There is evidence of a join to the left of the round crown to the left of the woman front left.

After lunch we visited Off Shoots, a Permaculture experiment of some 17 years standing.    We soon drifted to the bodger Brian see who gave us a demonstration of pole lathe turning.

bodger Brian

Sculptor Spends 4 Years Sculpting World’s Longest Wooden Masterpiece by Dan Edmund

Stuart Hood recommended this article copied from Buzznick .   Highly recommended.   If anyone else has ideas for this weekly post, please let me know using the “contact us” feature on the club website.

When most people see a fallen tree, they think nothing of it. Unless it happens to fall in your yard, then you might think of the cost to remove the tree. And an opportunist might even see the potential for firewood, but most would not think to carve the entire tree into an intricate work of art. However, most people are not Zheng Chunhui, a Chinese artist, who is a master in wood carving. Wood carving has been a long-standing Chinese tradition dating back thousands of years. Artists train their whole lives perfecting their technique in carving intensely intricate figures into wood.  Zheng Chunhui recently unveiled his masterpiece called “Along the River During The Qingming Festival”. The masterpiece is a 3D carving done inside the trunk of a tree that depicts a painting by the same name that was completed over 1000 years ago by Zhang Zeduan (1085 to 1134 AD).

The original art was painted on hand scrolls and depicted the every day events at the Qingming Festival, a ceremony honoring their dead which involved prayers and sweeping of tombs on the 104th day after the Winter Solstice.  “Along the River During The Qingming Festival” focused on the activities that were held behind the scenes and showed the lifestyle and dress of regular people (rich and poor alike) from rural areas to the inner city.

Here is a picture of the original artwork painted on handscrolls. It is 5.28 meters long, that’s more than 17 feet.















Zheng Chunhui uses the above painting as inspiration for his masterpiece which is over 12 meters long and 3 meters high. It depicts the 3 sections that the original artist showed of the Qingming Festival. The right of the art illustrates a rural section showing farmers in their fields with a path leading into the city. The city is located at the center where he portrays businesses including several restaurants, wine sellers, as well as other vendors that stretch across the rainbow bridge. Once across the rainbow bridge, the festival gets more animated as it leads into the more urban part of the city which depicts cargo being loaded onto ships, more businesses including a tax office, as well as private residences.  The detail is simply incredible, which you can see in the following pictures:

It took Zheng Chunhui 4 years to complete the sculpture with its amazing and intricate detail. He is even in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the longest continuous wood sculpture in the world.



























The detail is remarkable! Especially compared with the painting. You can even see where a rope is being lowered to a barge to help keep it from running into the bridge.













When you see how much detail is going into this sculpture, it’s hard to believe it only took 4 years to complete!


Here is a video of the sculpture on display in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.  This puts the enormity of the piece in a little more prospective that you can’t get from a still photograph.


Dan Edmund says “I would love to be able to visit this carving to study the detail in person. Zheng Chunhui must have an incredibly steady hand and limitless patience to be able to complete such a beautiful work of art!”         I too would love to see this, but it will have to be after COVID





Memories of our club trip to Cuckooland in Tabley, Knutsford Cheshire by Gillian Smith

Gill says :-

Last week when we all turned the clocks back one hour, we may have moaned about the few clocks and gadgets we had to alter.  Next day an article in The Times reminded me of when 17 of our members visited Cuckooland and the brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski gave us a guided tour round their collection of over 700 clocks. Twice a year (Spring and Autumn  ) they are still changing their clocks, taking nearly two days to complete the task.

Roman and Maz are horologists and clock restorers.  Over their careers of 35 years, they have sought and renovated the rarest and most notable examples of cuckoo clocks and over items.

We visited in 2015 and their worry then was who would take their collection over when they finished. They wanted it to be kept as a complete collection, they feared German collectors would break it up and cherry pick the best. Well 5 years on they and their collection are still together and taking two days to alter the hour twice a year. They are also woodcarvers and repair broken clocks.















To see more photos, see our club report of the visit :

The Cuckooland Website Gallery:    Telephone the owners to arrange a visit. View by appointment only.

Here is a  video showing the workings of a Beha echo cuckoo clock photographed by an American visitor.:

Report by Gillian Smith


Enquiries into a “New” Wood – Accoya by Richard Colbran

Accoya is the trade name for a chemically-treated radiata pine which has improved rot-resistance and stabilty for out-door applications.
 The wood is acetylated, which diminishes its affinity for water, so that its change of moisture content with climate variation is much reduced, as its susceptibility to rot.
 There is a 25 year warranty on timber in water or in the ground, and a 50 year warranty for outside timber exposed to climatic variation.
 Outdoor hardwood carvings (oak, elm) have had to be replaced after about 10 years maximum irrespective of the finish applied, so this timber is of great interest, but how good is it to carve?
  A species of pine with a subdued stripy grain, it is firm and quite hard when carving across the grain, but rather splitty when cutting along the grain.  This means that extra thought must be given to direction of cut when carving.  Also, the summer wood, between the   stripes, is a bit crumbly in places, so tools must be sharp.  But the much higher resistance to decay makes it worth considering for any outside project.
 Being chemically treated means that the wood’s properties for application of glues and finishes are affected, but there is a wealth of information in the following links.
 I was lucky enough to be given a sample to try out, but the only supplier I have come across is the following
 Advice on wood finishing was obtained from:
 “Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. You could take a look at the Sadolin Extra Durable Clearcoat >>> and exterior product that is close to the Sikkens in durability. 
​ I would recommend a test area first and allowing that test area to cure for a day or two, then check for good adhesion and you may find that wiping over with Methylated Spirits first may also help.
​ Osmo do recommend their products for Accoya and depending on the project, you could look at the exterior oils to use along side the WR Basecoat >>> again with test areas.”
 Picture of “Work in Progress” to illustrate the timber and carving result so far.

Hedgehog carving on post in Towneley park

Richard with the finished work in place in Towneley Park

Holiday in Stathpeffer

In those halcyon before Covid, we had a holiday in Strathpeffer.      We even had a lesson in how to pronounce the name, as our pronunciation would be spelt with pp instead of ff.   In the old station area there were some huge carvings that I would like to share with you.   They were made by Alistair Brebner who had his wood carving on the old station platform where he carved the  Evolution Pillar.  His work can still be seen in a number of locations in the Raigmore hospital in Inverness.

Evolution Pillar with my wife to show how big it is




















These photos are from his obituary

The carver at work

Gone for a brew?


Some close up shots I took to show the detail





Outside the station were more of his carvings

Carving in process

As I saw it




















































Grand Canyon carving by Richard Colbran

Richard says – The photo was taken in Spring, with the sunshine and moving cloud shadows making kaleidoscopic patterns across the multi-coloured layers of rock.  Snow showers came rattling in providing further variations.  My son was perched near the edge of the Southern Rim with his camera.  Certainly a day to remember on a wonderful family holiday!

Would it be possible to make a relief carving of the scene that would do it justice?  Perhaps not, but I decided to give it a try!

A piece of lime was required, about 300 x 350 X 35 mm thick.  A board was found which could be jointed, with grain running horizontally, but one end was slightly spalted and streaky. It was decided to leave that in the sky area, and how well that turned out in the finished product!















The picture was scaled and transferred to the wood.  Outlines were defined and depth layers were cut. Notice the streakiness and shade variation in the sky area on top right.

Trees and foreground figure were rounded















Some staining was done to test the general effect.  Spirit-based wood dyes were used, and knife cuts were made at the layer boundaries to prevent bleeding of the stain.

















It was found that the picture did not reveal the depth of the canyon, but looked more like a winding stream, so layers were re-adjusted, and some further detail carving was done, which, after further staining, gave a much better impression of the depth of the gorge.















The carving was sealed, then set in a mahogany frame and presented to the sitter.