1 What will I learn on the course?
The formal content of the course includes: how to plan a project; basic carving techniques; holding work properly; applying beautiful finishes; and choosing and looking after woodcarving tools. My woodworking experience is broad, and includes house framing, joinery, fine furniture making and jewellery making, as well as woodcarving, so discussions are often broad ranging! Also, the workshop has a comprehensive reference library, with books and magazines on: furniture making, country crafts, lettering and calligraphy, tools and photography. And, the social mix usually leads to insights on all sorts of other levels!
2 How is the course structured?
After a general introduction to the course, much of the time is spent carving. Newcomers are introduced to carving techniques with simple exercises, and, when ready, can choose a project such as a bowl or spoon, a relief carving, a simple animal, some Celtic knotwork, a decorated board, or a simple clock. Mid morning and mid afternoon, over teas and coffees, I give a tutorial covering a specific aspect of woodcarving.
3 When does the course start and finish?
Each day starts at 10am and finishes at 5pm, with about 1 hr for lunch, between 1pm and 2pm. I often stay in the workshop later, sharpening tools and preparing for the next day, and, if that’s the case, you’re welcome to work later, provided you accept that the assistance I give will be very limited.
4 What should I bring?
We provide tools, timber, lunch and refreshments. However, if you already have some woodcarving tools or a mallet - bring them along. Timber for a basic project is provided, but if you have a particular piece of wood you’d like to carve, do bring it. Likewise, if you have any pictures of a subject you’d like to carve, bring those. It’s advisable to wear footwear that would give protection if you accidentally drop a sharp chisel. The workshop is quite a clean environment, but there will be chips and wood dust that can mess up fleece tops. And, don’t forget your glasses if you need them for close work!
5 I don’t feel I’m very artistic - is that a problem?
No. Designing a project is not an important skill, and there are several step-by-step projects for you. I cover techniques for planning a project and where to get inspiration. And, people often surprise themselves!
6 Will it involve using power tools?
No. My insurance wouldn’t actually cover that. But I can drill or saw work for you, as needed. Specialist power tools are available for woodcarving, but this course focusses on hand work.
7 Can I buy tools at the workshop?
Yes. I usually have a comprehensive selection of top quality tools for sale in the workshop. I’ve negotiated discount from the suppliers, so many tools sell below shop prices.
8 Can you sharpen my tools for me?
Yes. Unless I’m very busy. There may be a small charge per tool, depending on condition.
9 Can I buy timber for woodcarving?
Sometimes - it depends on what I have in. Please don’t depend on it.
10 I’m a vegetarian, will there be a suitable lunch?
Yes, Joyce puts out a good spread of cheeses, spreads, veg based soup etc (often from home grown organic vegetables) - as well as meat for the omnivores! If you have special needs, please let us know in advance.
11 Who might I meet on the course?
The courses are held for a maximum of 5 students, who can be a mix of complete beginners and accomplished craftworkers. Everyone comes with different needs and expectations, and I do my best to look after each individual accordingly.
Fortunately for me, the courses seem to attract a wonderful variety of very nice people! Past participants have included: councillors, sculptors, cabinetmakers, doctors, unemployed single mothers, relief farmhands, company directors, carpentry instructors, a psychiatric nurse, teachers, plasterers, authors, business consultants, homemakers, gardeners, the owner of an oil company, an olympic gymnastics coach, the holder of the world record for plate spinning, an oscar winning actor and a notorious criminal suspect....
Though not all at the same time!