Garden Friends by Stuart Hood

Stuart says ” .  I always find it hard to make up my mind what to carve next , so whilst clearing out my shed I found some old carvings I had done five or six years ago, these are the lower two on the stump and one on the back of the shed. I also found a couple of pieces of wood and decided to carve another two spirits. These are the two newer ones on the top of the stump. As for the type of wood, I think the top one is sycamore and the others are pine from the stump when it died some years ago. All I’ve done is give them two coats of Danish oil and hung them out to dry.  


























Fence post art by Richard Colbran

My Garden Friends

Richard says –  Over the last 20 years, a major interest has been the production and maintenance of out-door nature carvings for the local parks, making trail-markers and other interesting features for the benefit of the general public.

Seven years ago, when re-jigging our garden after a house move, we decided to add some small nature carvings on top of our own fence posts.

Suitable subjects were found, and wood selected from workshop oddments – oak, elm, ash, cherry, tulip-wood and mahogany.

Carving was mostly with conventional gouges and knives, and the best method of fixing them to the posts was that used for fixing walking stick handles, with an axial steel dowel embedded in epoxy-glue and sometimes a wood-screw to hold everything tight while the glue sets.  They have been finished with a variety of exterior PU varnishes or oil blends, none of which have stood up to  weather conditions, despite yearly attention.  Splits have developed in several of the earlier samples and some further repair work is needed

In the days when visitors were allowed in the garden, the carvings used to attract lots of interest, and as there are still a couple of posts uncapped the next subject may be a Covid-19 virus!

A memorial to the great lock-down!









































On August 2nd, Club members enjoyed a visit to the collections of craft workshops now housed in the Old Workhouse, King Street, Pateley Bridge.


Joseph Hayton, the stone mason, invited us into his workshop, and told us about his career and his carvings. Among those on show were two carving of Green men, one in Tadcaster limestone and the other in a much darker shade was one in Killkenny limestone from Ireland.

Outside we met his father John Hayton who was carving a scene onto a giant oak beam which had been commissioned to replace one that had gone rotten in the roof of a local hall.? (more of Joseph and John’s carvings can be seen on )

Another highlight of our trip was the visit to the glassblowers where Andrew Sanders and David Wallace showed us their skills with a full demonstration of how they made bowls, vases, wineglasses  and paperweights. They fascinated us with a full description of the chemicals involved and the simple tricks of the trade to get trapped silver bubbles, sprays of flowers, etc.  Some of us were mesmerized and could have watched for hours. Their website shows more of their work.  ( )

The Wall in the Wilderness – Tasmania

A relative of a friend was a £10 Pom and now lives in Tasmania.   He introduced me to this work which is amazing.

It is carved in flat-relief out of Huon Pine by self-taught sculptor Greg Duncan and is telling the history of the Tasmanian Central Highlands. On massive wood panels 3 metres high. Currently there are 35 panels on display in the hall. When complete, The Wall will have a total length of 100 metres! (That’s 50m per side.).  These are just some of the many pictures available on line.   There is also a video that is well worth watching click on Video



















































The building housing The Wall in the Wilderness is purpose built and is a magnificent structure both inside and out. Classical music wafts around the room at just the right level so as not to intrude on one’s gaze, instead adding to the incredibly relaxing atmosphere in the gallery.




David Nash – A Personal View by John Adamson

I saw some of David Nash’s work on tv the other day, and thought I would share my memories.

Back in the late 90s, I was a “rather older than the rest of the year” sculpture student as the University of Central Lancashire in Preston.     There was a request for students to provide free labour to set up an exhibition by David Nash in Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham, Burnley.    Back then I could not look him up on Google, and I did not have the time to go to the library before joining the group at Gawthorpe Hall, so did not realising the size if David’s work.     I turned up in sandals when everyone else was in walking boots to protect their toes.   I had to answer to Sandals for that day and weeks after, back in the studio.     My impression was that the work was very BIG and DIRTY.     The burnt items came wrapped in clingfilm and we got covered in charcoal as soon as we took this off.      The work came on a lorry adapted to carry slate.     The front was an articulated lorry and the back was from an ordinary wagon to give greater pulling power, a strong frame and less difficulty negotiating tricky bends.

If you know my work, you will see why I am attracted to David’s.        This abstract art rather than representational, and on a large scale.     I rather doubt that there is any glass paper used in the finishing of his work.   It is about the shape rather than the detail or the finish.   Here are some images of his work.

This is very much as I remember David Nash and his work, but it is not at Gawthorpe Hall












Again, this is very much as I remember David Nash’s work, but it is not at Gawthorpe Hall














This looks a bit brutal











I am not sure about the size of these, but assume that they are chainsaw carved













More chainsaw work






















I like the way that with simple cuts David finds interesting surfaces and shapes.    His childhood holidays were spent at Blaenau Ffestiniog , where later David helped clear and replant a nearby forest that his father owned.  He also worked for the Commercial Forestry Group and learned about wood of many kinds and that he hated planting trees in rows.   It must help to have that experience and access to lots of Big chunks of wood.




















John Adamson on Planning a Wood Carving,

This is a report of a meeting on 15th July 2017

John Adamson shared his knowledge from a lifetime of woodcarving. His motto for carving was “Planning time is cheap, time for doing corrections is expensive.”

John encouraged us to consider several things before we start to carve.

  1. Think carefully about perspective especially if copying from a photograph.

    The item in the photo may be foreshortened, such as in an animal’s photo taken from the head end the back legs will be shorter than the front; or a photo of a person taken from above will appear to have shorter legs than in real life.  It may be more obvious on this box than on a real animal.  Even street scenes can have slightly curved vertical walls to the buildings.

  2. You need several photos or plans from different view points. A photo from above is not always available. Children’s plastic animals can be bought at charity shops, etc. If needed, very accurate plastic models of animals ,etc are available from Schleich.

  3. Making a clay model, if only a rough one, can help you to plan the whole or just a part of the carving. A small rough part model is good if you need to work out how something “works ” e.g. the folds of a dress” .

4 Check movement of the legs and arms in relation to the spine movement in the spine brings life to your carving. Look up Google “Zoological Skeletons” for accurate side views of animals. This is a good source for getting the right proportions. John also recommended Resource Box 2 in our library – a collection of useful items.

5 Plan how you will hold the carving whilst working on it, such as leaving a part until the end just so there is always a place to clamp.


6 Consider how you will display your model when finished. E.g. What sort of base does it need, Will your relief carving be viewed from above or below. A carving should look good from whichever angle you look at it.

7 Having thought of perspective, drawings, display, holding, and maybe a model, bring it all together and begin carving.

John finished his very informative talk by giving us many other little tips for carving including the use of cardboard cutouts to check the measurements of your carving against the original model or drawings

Scandinavian Flat Carving by Nick Pantelides

This a report of a meeting in June 2017

This is a Scandinavian flat plane carved self portrait of Nick carving a flat plane figure.  The carving style has a history stretching back to viking days.  It had fallen out of favour for some centuries but restarted in the 17th century as a folk art.   In the early 1900s, it was discovered by the art world as it, like the best impressionist painting, captures in a few bold strokes the essence of the subject.  It is a style of carving that is more popular in America than the UK.  The figures below are all Nick’s work.

The tools and wood used are cheap, simple knives, pine or fruit woods, and watercolour paints or acrylic paints thinned to be like watercolour.   In a skilled carvers hands, the work is quickly produced, and many variations may be made from a basic design.   Almost any sharp knife can be used, although there are some knives advertised for this style of work at really crazy prices.  Nick recommended an Eric Frost Mora carving knife as being a reasonably priced and having a good try part steel blade which will keep its edge if treated and sharpened right.  There are of course safety considerations.  The usual rules about not carving towards your own body are difficult to apply when carving wood held in the hand, and Nick recommends a thumb guard made from an old leather glove.   You are not likely to stab yourself as the cuts being made are small and do not have a great effort behind them.

There are only 4 main cuts,

A push cut as below where a small slice of wood is taken off near enough with the grain

A paring cut which is like a push cut but is towards the body

Both of the above need a stop cut to stop the wood splitting away further than is required.

The slice cut is used to make a groove in the wood to say, suggest a fold in fabric.

The most important point made was the need for sharp tools.   Dull or blunt tools are dangerous because too much effort has to be put into a cut.   We spent some time on sharpening

The profile of the blade of the knife needs to narrow to a point.   Do not use a grinder as the human hand is not steady enough to be accurate.   If a little light buffing on a strop is not enough to bring the knife back to sharpness, find the flat planes on the sides of the blade with a stone.

Painting is with acrylics thinned down to the consistency of water colours to give the washed out authentic look.  Start with the lightest colours, so that any bleeding into an adjacent area can be covered with a darker colour, or stopped with an undercut.   All that is need to finish is a light wax.

In all the above there is no mention of glass paper, and it is not required as the beauty of the style comes from the flat planes created with a knife

Brad Quarless Bowl Carver

This talk was given on 20th May 2017

Brad’s talk was described as “Bowl carving not turning” although his Google entry says ” Bespoke organic furniture and wood sculpture”, and I see his work as the most exciting “Commercial wood sculptor” we have seen for years.  He uses both hand and power tools to produce  a sculpturally interesting, wide range of products including unique furniture, chairs, and kitchen items.  See his web site on   His uncle was a miner who whittled and father was a carver of items for churches who took him into the workshops.  He has had a journey in wood from woodyard to finished wood from childhood.  The architecture of wrecked boats, driftwood and found wood inspire his work.


There was an interesting display of tools, all were quick, some for heavy wood removal and others for a smooth finish.   We were impressed but the costs were too high for amateurs as we would not make enough use of them.   Brad says the tools had to earn their keep and there seemed to be a garage full of tools that had failed to live up to his standards.   I did by one of the tools and occasionally use it to remove junks of wood that are too awkward for a bandsaw or chainsaw, and too much to carve away by hand

Brad sources his wood direct driftwood from the shore, farmers fields, and from tree surgeons ( it helps to have a cousin in the business) and dries it out before he can work on it.  Above is a 2 inch thick slab of cherry which is destined to be a garden sculpture. The carving process starts with heavy power tools exploring the natural holes, and cracks to eliminate the weakness they might introduce to the finished work.  He listens to the wood, is guided by the wood, allows the wood to tell him what to do, and does not attempt force his ideas on to the wood.  The holes make viewing points to encourage the public to explore, see more of the surroundings, and share his enthusiasm for wood and sculpture.

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This huge piece of burr wood was really heavy and as we had begun to expect the vice could hold a ton of wood.  Brad is working on the inside with an angle grinder and a carbide cutter to cut out the inside of the bowl.   He would normally take out much of the interior with a chain saw, but was concerned that the wood might contain a void as it was not as heavy as the bulk suggested. A slower approach was necessary

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This is the bread and butter side of Brads business.  A shallow bowl in  sapele, roughed out with the angle grinder and then smoothed to a silky finish using a Kirjes Sanding & Polishing System tool.   There is a rubber ball inside the specially shaped sanding sleeve which eliminates the tendency for the sander to leave groves in the work.  With these tools, brad can carve a bowl in 15 minutes, and sell them at a competitive price.   The bowl would be finished with 70%medical beeswax mixed with 30% medical mineral oil, which makes it suitable for serving food

This is one of several slices of a ash tree that had rotted in the middle and will make exciting sculptures.

Brad brought in a selection of books that have informed his work

Exploration in Wood by Tim Stead, With the grain by Tim Stead. Decorative woodwork by A.W.P. Kettles, Creative wood sculpture by G Bentham, Red, Black, Other by David Nash, Makepeace by J Myerson


We all met outside Rochdale Town Hall which is an impressive building constructed in 1873.   The inside was equally impressive.   It had a look of a Siena church with stripes of red and white, large granite pillars, and a marvellous tiled floor.   The building costs had over run the budget by 6 times and the recent repairs had cost more than estimated.  We were shown exactly where the money had run out originally and currently.  We, of course,  were more interested in the carvings

The Lion rampant was carved all over the place but there were dragons too, but less of them now as some had been stolen.


There were lots of heads acting as corbels for the arches over doors , and many as this one had lost part of the nose


The carved furniture was marvellous.


In what had been built as the Music room , now the Mayor’s parlour there were carvings of musicians


We all enjoyed the tour of the building and would recommend everyone to book themselves on a tour.

Mark Hopkins – Furniture Restoration

Mark gave us as good a talk as he did last time he came.   This is a piece that Mark made from scratch for a show in Exeter, where it won 3rd prize. Each surface has been covered with veneer.  The main sheet of veneer is soaked, glued to the surface with animal glue, pushed down until flat, and left to set for an hour or so.  The shape of the inlay veneers are cut from the main veneer and the lifted out.  At this stage the glue is amenable.  The soaked inlays are fitted into position and pushed down until flat


Mark is demonstrating how the veneer is pushed down with a veneer hammer.  As the veneer has already expanded during the soaking, it is important to push the veneer flat from the edges towards the middle so that no extra expansion occurs.  The veneers are then sanded using 120, 240, and 400 grit paper, care being taken that the veneer is not all sanded away.  A coating of coloured stopping is applied to fill in any holes.  This is sanded and then 3 coats of Sand and Sealer are applied with a sanding between.

Mark uses traditional French Polishing techniques.  Small amount of polish and a dab of linseed oil is applied , it is one of those occasions when less is more, as it is easy to take off the polish by having to much oil or polish on the rubber.

Mark showed us a range of veneers bought from Ebay and local suppliers.   Here he is showing us a pack of walnut veneer that had been destined for Rolls Royce.   It seem that one has to buy when the veneer is available, as when you want it, there is none to be found

Mark recommended

Restoration Materials for polish, stains etc.

Nantwich Veneers

H. E. Savill for brass fixings

Martin & Co for historically accurate knobs and hinges