Richard Colbran talked about Relief Carving

On 19th May 2018 Richard ( a long standing member of the club with a wealth of experience)  brought in a number of his relief carvings and gave us a talk relief carving.


He discussed a number of tricks and tips around adding dramatic shadow, the difficulty of perspective in high relief carving and thinking about the grain in three planes.



Richard discussed his use of colouring, the types of wood he uses and how he treats pieces differently for outdoor display on projects such as the nature walks in Townley Park.

He is a keen woodworker and likes to use these skills to make his own frames for the carvings, these enhance the carvings and are ofter tailor-made to match the images.



Tribute to Jim Lupton

My last post was about the repair of a carved horse made by Jim Lupton.    I had been brought to me by his granddaughter who shared some pictures of his work.     I have never met Jim, but his work shows that he is the sort of carver I would have liked to meet.   Here are the pictures and his granddaughter’s memories of Jim Lupton










“The Pied Piper “by Wood carver Jim Lupton












Wood carver Jim Lupton

Jim with the elephant he carved aged 9









Penninghame House_

Penninghame House












His Granddaughter’s memories

Jim Lupton was born and lived his whole life in a little village called Creetown in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. His very first woodcarving was of a baby elephant which Jim whittled using a penknife at the age of 9 However it would be many years before this skill would turn Jim into the artist he became.
He began his career as an apprentice stonemason at Milligan’s Monumental Masons, Carsluith after missing out on the joiner’s apprenticeship he was hoping for. Unfortunately  after some time Milligan’s could no longer afford to employ Jim, so he sought employment in the local village quarry, a Granite Quarry on the Fell Hill, Creetown. It was here he learnt about the structure and properties of stone. From the quarry he went on to hone his career as a monumental stonemason at McKenzie’s Monumental Masons, Newton Stewart.
Jim made many headstones and memorials over the years, including a war memorial that sits in Fossvogur in Reykjavik, a headstone for the founder of Logan Air, Willie Logan and a stone marking the Queen’s Way, which was unveiled by Princess Anne to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee In 1977. McKenzie’s were asked to create a headstone with an eagle carved out of local granite. There was only one man in their yard who they could entrust with such a challenging task, Jim. The headstone has an eagle’s head and wings projecting from the large granite boulder and is situated in Anworth Cemetery near Gatehouse of Fleet. It was carving this eagle out of granite, that would become the catalyst in developing Jim’s woodcarving hobby in later years. 
Once Jim ended his career in the granite industry, he took on the role of school bus driver and janitor at the local primary. It was here he had the opportunity to pass his musical knowledge onto the local children through teaching instrumental brass; a passion he developed during his National Service with the KOSB. He even took a small group of children to appear on BBC Radio Scotland. However, Jim missed having something tangible to show for his days work. His wife Janette and his 4 children decided to club together to buy him set of woodcarving chisels and from there he never looked back. All Jim’s spare time was spent in his wood carving shed in the back garden, he started carving in 2D, a skill he had mastered as a stonemason, but he soon progressed to 3D carvings, “carving in the round” as he liked to call it. Jim loved to challenge himself and tried many different ideas, some that paid off and some that never saw the light of day. Inspiration came from many sources including suggestions from family members, characters from both history and folklore as well as from travelling with his family. 
Jim was a humble character never looking for the limelight, but in 1987 he appeared on a Border television programme that looked at local people and their hobbies. He was also featured in an edition of Dumfries & Galloway life magazine, which showcased a selection of his carvings. 
In 1996 Jim purchased a lathe and began woodturning. He produced bowls, lamp stands, …. and even a finial that adorns the roof of his daughter’s house. But carving was where his true passion remained and like all good artists, he was continued developing his skills and honing his craft. He amassed a huge collection of carvings before his sad passing in 2011, the most of which remain with the family today. Jim wasn’t on keen commission pieces because he could never guarantee a piece of would evolve into the vision he had. However, a couple of commissions which he did take on, and was proud of, were the carved door for the Creetown Clock Tower and the staircase finials for Penninghame House, Newton Stewart. Both commissions are still in situ today.

He was a true artist with an eye for perfection and detail.


Repair of Horse Carving by John Adamson

A client brought a carving of a horse that her grandfather, Jim Lupton,  had made.  It had an accident and now had five breaks.  Each leg had two breaks and the tail was also broken.   My first thought was that there were too many bits to handle with only two hands, and it would work better if the horse and the base could be held in something like the correct relationship to each other.     The work consists of a horse carved from a fairly soft wood, on a carved  base, on a flat base plate.     The flat base is 6in wide and the horse and the carved base are only 3in.     I thought that if the horse and the flat base plate could be separated, then the horse and the carved plate could somehow be rested in the right relationship.    No such luck.    The original carver, Jim Lupton, must have been a belts and braces man as the flat base plate was screwed and glued to the carved base plate.     So I put a flat back board on to my carving clamp, and screwed some blocks to it, so that the flat base base plate could be clamped firmly.












I found some scrap wood to pack out the space between the horse and the back board, and hold the horse in position.












There theoretically 8 different ways I could try fitting the first of the broken leg pieces ( I will leave it to you to work out the 8 ways).   Having done it once, I colour coded the legs and appropriate broken bits, so I did not have to do it again.    Remembering Nick Pantelides talks about joining the head of a walking stick to the stick using a threaded rod to strength the joint, I hunted round my “Will come in useful one of these days” box and found 2 bolts of a suitable size.   I drilled into the broken bits, the legs attached to the horse and the legs attached to the base.   Although I tried to get all the holes in line, they were a smidgen off, and had to be ground out to allow all three bits of the leg to be inline and meet correctly.

The horse upside down in a vice with the bolts in place











Again remembering Nick’s talks, I knew that I had to get special glue for the job and a provide an escape route for the expanding glue.   Richard Colbran had mentioned using the method in his report on  his Fence Post carvings, and as I was not sure of the details of the process, I asked his advice.
















I took all my courage in my hands, and mixed and applied the glue, to both ends of the rods, and the tail, and clamped it all together.   The only clamp I could apply was to the tail, as the legs had no parallel surfaces.    So I had the 4 leg joints to hold and squeeze the legs together for the 5 minutes before the glue sets.   That’s not easy with only 2 hands.     When I was able to look closely at the legs joints, they were a bit out of line, less than a 16th of an inch but noticeable.   With the owners consent, I smoothed over the problem joints, and filled in parts of the tail.    As you can see from the picture above the paint round the joins had split off when it was broken.   As there was no way I could match the faded black paint, I rubbed down all the horse, touched in some of the bare patches, before repainting all the horse.
















I am not a good painter, and all my doors have paint runs marring the surface, so I approached the painting task with some trepidation.      As preparation, I have been told, is the most important element, I covered the base with lots of plastic to prevent drips and splashes.













The final result!!     Looks ok even with a close up of the legs



Walking Sticks with Nick Panteledies

Nick laid out his main criterion for a walking stick – It must be comfortable.  This is at variance with the British Stickmakers Guild (www.thebsg,org,uk) which marks sticks down if they are not billiard cue straight, amongst it’s other petty rules.

Sticks are traditionally made from hawthorn, ash, holly, hazel although interesting sticks can be made from the centre of a Brussel sprout stem.   The wood should be cut January or February before the New Years growth has started, but it is commonly agreed that 5 minutes before someone else cuts is is also a good time.   The size should be about 1 inch diameter as this fits nicely into the hand.   Nick prefers leaving the bark on the wood although there are those who always take it off.

Nick may not be favour absolutely straight sticks, but he has come up with a simple way of doing it.  All previous speaker we have had on this subject have described long metal tubes filled with wet sand and the sticks, being heated from the outside to straighten stick.  Nick uses a hair dryer and a bit of plastic that started life as a rain water ware for straighten, relying on the water that is already in the wood as he does the straightening soon after cutting the stick from the wild.

The heads are fixed to the sticks with 6 inches of 1/4 inch screw bar and Araldite two part glue.  Heads should be comfortable in the hand and Nick has found that some of the designs shown in magazines are just too big, so beware.  A short head as in the Photos above, avoids the possibility of the neck breaking  on the short grain.  The sticks are finished with several coats of Danish Oil

Nick’s straightening system