New Members Carving Journeys

Back in June 20, 2019, four of our newish members were very brave and told us how they came to join the club and how they were progressing with their carving experience.    They were all quite different from each other.   Nico Pantelides gives new members and introduction to carving, explaining the use and sharpening of tools, and setting fairly standard “first carving” projects.  I was expecting that our speakers would all be at roughly the same stage, but NO.

Brian Grove had a walking stick that needed shortening, so he asked around.  He was put in touch with a club member and saw his work, got interested and joined us.   He has now gone into industrial type of production of carved hedgehogs for his grandchildren.  His next project is a howling wolf .  He stressed the helpfulness and friendliness of the club members.  They are always willing to chat and offer advice

Brian Grove’s work













Glynnis Cruice discovered the club at Towneley Hall in 2011.   She had to be convinced that women carved but was assured they did.  A couple of years latter, when she retired, she joined and has tackled some ambitious work.   Her next project is a chess set.  I have

started to carve a set several times and have always been disillusioned by the number of pawns.  I wish her luck.  She appreciates the members help and friendliness.

Glynnis Cruice’s work

Glynnis Cruice’s next project

Glynnis Gruice Love spoon













Martin Haigh is self taught and came to carving as an extension of his marquetry work and is working towards a collage using a marquetry background with carvings of animals in front.  He has stuck veneer to the back of some of his carvings to increase their sturdiness and prevent them breaking along the short grain.

Martin Haigh’s work









Mike Illsley trained as an architect and has brought those skills to the designing of carvings.  His first work was a rocking horse, unusually he did not use a kit or published design, but worked with the wood he had.    He played around with the idea of spilt paint and other stuff.    Has made lots of sardine coming out of a tin sculptures, and has progressed to carving a very realistic bison.   His next project is wooden neck tie, and shirt.

Mike Illesey and his rocking horse

Mick Illsey portable paint pot accident sculpture

Mike Illesey’s work








David Kershaw Model Maker

Back in May 19, 2019 we had a visit from David Kershaw.     David  has always loved makings and uses wood, brass, plastic and electronics in his work.    There seems to be various levels of accomplishment in the model making world.  From bought plastic kits ready to be painted, through models made from scratch ( all the parts made by hand), to museum standard models that are too good to be played with in case they got damaged.  David placed himself in the middle of the range, making some things from scratch, buying in other peoples failures from E Bay, but not achieving museum standard of finish.The Gun Carriage was made from scratch.   He had made a jig to ensure that all the wheels were the same size, and that the axel was in the middle. A brass tire was added to hide the method of manufacture.   To a chainsaw carver this seems very fiddly work, but he manages all his work on a small table, whereas my workshop extends the whole of the basement and is still crowded.David showed us two boats.  The Fire boat was an E Bay wreck which needed to be stripped of paint, have certain repairs , and some parts made from scratch.  The other boat he is making to plans and he described the problems of this sort of work.  It is so easy to get the keel out of line, as the glued on pieces may exert strong forces pulling the whole boat slightly out of shape.  He will sail these boats in Heywood with the Mutual Model Boat Society from 9.30 to 12 on Sundays.  He says he prefers boats to airplanes as planes crash more frequently .    A trick of the trade He used a curtain ring as a Lifebuoy!!














David has a web site that shows the process of building a boat














The gun carriage was built from scratch.  A kit would have cost  30, would not have a solid brass cannon, and would not have been half as much fun to make.

Amber, Jet, Jade, and Ivory. Talk by Gill Smith (member)

Gill Illustrated her talk with slides and souvenirs from her holidays.













Amber is a fossilised tree resin that is easy cut by hand or with a flexible shaft tool.  Usually a rich yellow but can be red or blue.  If it happens to have an insect trapped in it, then the value rockets.  We were shown some photographs of the amber rooms in St Petersburg where whole rooms are covered in carved amber.   Warning – There is fake amber on the market.

Jet  is fossilised Monkey Puzzle tree, rather like coal.  It has been used for jewellery since Roman times, became very popular in Queen Victoria’s reign, and has come back into fashion through the Goth movement.   It is illegal to mine it, but it can be picked up (if you are very lucky) from the beach after storms.   It is soft but brittle and takes a high shine.

Jade comes in various colours green, lavender, red, yellow, white and black.  It is very hard and can only be shaped with abrasives.   It has been carved in China from the Neolithic Period (c. 3000-2000 b.c.e) onward.   In early times the abrasive used was sand which can be worked into the jade with a wood or copper tool, now diamond tipped tools are used. ? We were shown a carved ball with more balls inside, and Nick Pantildes explained how this was done .













Ivory from elephants is now a restricted material, so most examples date from before the laws about sale of ivory were enacted.   Ivory can also be obtained from  walrus, and mammoths.  There is also false ivory which is a resin based material.  One interesting fact was that elephants are evolving, and tusks are getting smaller because the gene pool for the larger tusked elephants has been reduced by poaching.

Marvin Elliot Woodcarver

Mick Illsley has recently been to Arran on holiday and met Marvin Elliot in his workshop.  The members who managed to Zoom on Thursday 29th July, heard all about it,   The offer of free chisels and the handing over of a large lump of lime on the promise that Mick will send him a picture of what he carved from it.

The Voice of Arran  did an article about him in May 2016

“Our Arran Artist for this month is Marvin Elliott. Marvin’s wood carvings and sculptures are a familiar sight around Arran (think of the Corrie seal!), and are also to be seen much further afield these days. The Voice caught up with Marvin in his well-known workshop in Corrie.

Marvin trained as a Land Surveyor in the Army and continued to work in that role after leaving the military. He was surveying for a pipeline in Iran when he had a stroke that left his left arm weakened. He moved to Orkney “as a hippy drop-out”, and one day noticed a woodcarving competition in a magazine he was idly leafing through. He entered and much to his surprise he won. A church in England saw his winning entry and commissioned him to carve a Madonna and Child for them in 1980. His first thought was “I can’t do that!” but he had a go and the remarkable result can be seen in the photograph below. This led to several more Church commissions, and before long his work was in demand all over Britain.

After ten years on Orkney Marvin was commissioned to make a series of animal sculptures for Arran Aromatics, just then opening in Brodick. Coming to Arran to work on the project, he found that he very much liked it here and has been here ever since.

Marvin says that the process is all important in the making of these works. The outward appearance, seemingly so spontaneous, is often, paradoxically, the end result of a long and laborious process and emerges over time from the natural form of the wood.

These days three-quarters of Marvin’s work is commissioned, and he has an order book that is pretty full for the next six months. He also has smaller pieces for sale in his workshop that are popular with visitors and tourists.”

I found some photographs by Guy Carpenter taken for Gullwing Photography   see below

Marvin Elliot Drawings

Marvin Elliot’s work


Marvin Elliot with some work

Marvin Elliot with some Bog Oak


Carved Scotty Dog

Figure carving