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Mother Earth

Mother Earth Mother EarthMother EarthMother EarthMother Earth


I found this lump of olive whilst walking in Majorca. It had been more bashed out of the tree than cut, and was a strange shape. I have removed very little wood and only really defined the face and the sack over her shoulder.

Three Wise Men

 3 Wise Ment3 Wise Ment3 Wise Ment3 Wise Ment3 Wise Ment

I was commissioned by the mother of the groom to carve something different as a wedding present, and the bride and groom chose the subject of the two of them in a sitting position so that they can be put on shelves and books ect. If they are not talking to each other, then the figures can be moved apart. Now there's forward planning! As the figures were to be portraits, although the faces have no detail, I had to get the body shapes right, hence the plasticine model.The last picture is of the wood at an early stage of the work. The bride is from New  Zealand, hence the choice of books for the pictures. I did a blog for this work and a copy of it can be seen by clickink on the last image above

Caterpillar

Caterpillar Caterpillar  Caterpillar Caterpillar Caterpillar

This carving was made in complete secrecy for the recipients 60th birthday. I was working from two small photographs and his wife’s memory that the bike was a Honda 350. The internet showed that there were 4 different models but I could not work out which one fitted the pictures I had. Eventually I asked the East Leeds Lions MCC for help and they came back within 24 hours with a definitive identification and good pictures of the model.

To get the bike to stand right with a correct angle of the front wheel I needed a model I could actually measure, so I made up one of those plastic kits. It was a level 4 kit and very difficult to assemble, but as some fairly drastic simplification would be required in the final carving, I was able to leave off the fiddly bits.

The sculpture is about a motorcycle that has broken down again, which was my experience of motorcycles and the commissioners. It’s that moment when feminine impatience about how long the repair is taking comes into conflict with concern about the fixers confidence about their ability to mend it.

Colden Dragon

Oak: Height 10 inches

Colden Dragon Colden Dragon  Colden DragonColden Dragon Colden DragonColden Dragon  

This was one of the first planned group carvings. Before this group carvings had just happened. I learnt a lot from this carving, such as:

I have put these into practice in later work.

cute-companions

Cute Companions

Elm: Height 8 inches

Cute Companions Cute Companions Cute Companions Cute CompanionsCute Companions

Have you ever done country dancing? The Cute Companions is a set where you pass your partner on the left and the next dancer on the right, then left and right until you get back to your partner. Confused? Well try doing it to fast music. Whenever I have danced it, the set has always gone wrong the first time with the music.

This carving captures the moment before the music is switched off. It was inspired by a doughnut shape log, completely hollow due to rot. The rot was a constant problem, as bits fell off figures causing a complete revamp from fat to thin person, and getting a clean final surface almost impossible.

Waiting

Willow: Height 10 inches

Waiting Waiting Waiting Waiting

I was travelling daily from Birmingham to London by train and had lots of experience of waiting. The wood came from the top of the willow trunk where it had been pollarded and there were lots of branches joined together, and in some places, separated by bark. I used the bark to help me get into the centre of the block and create small groups within the larger group. There are twenty two figures on the carving if you count the teddy bear.

Family Tree

Family Tree

This carving was made for the recipients 70th birthday. It represents the grandmother and her eight grandchildren. When I started there were only seven and they were all boys, I had them arranged helter skelter wise round the grandmother in size order.

Before I finished another grandchild was born, and this had to be squeezed in. I just found the right amount of wood for the extra child and finished the carving before another came along. With seven boys to carve there was a problem of making them all interesting so I invented interesting ways to represent their clothing.

The Barnoldswick Town Cryer

Mahogany: Height 18 inches

Town Cryer Town Cryer Town Cryer

Kevin Griffiths, the town cryer of Barnoldswick, Lancashire, commissioned this carving as the prize for their local Town Cryer competition. The winner keeps the prize for two years and then it is fought for again.

When we discussed the design, it was obvious that he wanted a typical town cryer stance with an outstretched arm ringing a bell. Unfortunately that sort of design is unlikely to withstand the rigours of normal life and in a very short time the arm will fall off. I suggested that a more relaxed, “I have just finished my part in the competition” stance would be more suitable, as it kept the bell and the scroll protected by being close to the body.

Dancers

Root (Wood not known): Height 11 inches

Dancers Dancers Dancers Dancers

I was inspired by the burr on this root and made it into the frilly underskirt that ballroom dancers wear. The other dancers were chosen from a variety of styles to fit the roots.

Fire Light

(Wood not known): Height 9 inches

Firelight Firelight

This was my first group carving and came about due to a complete lack of inspiration. I decided I would tidy the garage and carve the first bit of carvable wood I came across. If I failed to find anything, at least I would end up with a tidier garage. The wood I found was rotten, and the good wood so thin that I thought of making it into a lamp shade. This led to me thinking about people round a bonfire when all you see is their black shape against the fire light.

Flirteen

American Cedar: Height 9 inches

Flirteen

I carved this in America whilst an exchange student in Richmond, Virginia. I made contact with the local woodcarvers – James River Woodcarvers – who met once a week to carve. There was not enough wood for the feet so I imagined them as dancers on a smoke filled stage as seen in Top of the Pops.

Imagine You Are A Tree

Hawthorn Root: Height 11 inches

Imagine you are a tree Imagine you are a treeImagine you are a treeImagine you are a treeImagine you are a treeImagine you are a tree

I was asked to submit a piece for the British Woodcarvers Association ‘Childhood’ exhibition. I could not think of anything until I remembered Music and Movement at school. A very plummy English voice would say “And now children, I want you to find yourself a space, and when the music begins, imagine that you are…” I was hopeless at it. There were always girls who went to tap and ballet classes who looked so elegant. I am the one that looks as if he is falling over.

Medieval Dance

Oak: Height 9 inches

Medieval Dance Medieval Dance Medieval Dance

This was carved in a hotel bedroom in Abu Dhabi, in response to a British Woodcarvers Association request for work to be exhibited in a Shakespeare’s England exhibition in aid of the building of the new Globe Theatre.

I used a carpet covered mallet in attempt to keep the noise down. I could not find any books in the library on Elizabethan England and so borrowed heavily from Brugel for the style of medieval clothes and musical instruments. I often wonder what the chambermaid thought of the small wood chippings that I did not manage to clean up!

Look What I’ve Found!

(Wood not known): Height 7 inches

Look what I’ve found Look what I’ve foundLook what I’ve foundLook what I’ve found

I was carving at the Malpas Vintage Vehicle Show and a fellow exhibitor said it reminded her of her childhood.

One of the children had found an unexploded bomb sticking out of the ground, and contrary to all the instructions, they pulled it out of the ground and took it to the police station. The policeman on duty turned a deathly shade of white, ushered them out and called the bomb disposal people.

Nelly Dean

Pine: Height 8 inches

Nelly Dean Nelly Dean

Pine is not a good wood for carving because it splits easily. I decided to push the wood as far as it would go, so there is lots of space between the figures which lead to some scary carving.

The Splits

Beech: Height 21 inches

The Splits The Splits

This was carved from a whole beech tree. The legs from the root, the trunk is trunk, and the arms and head are from branches. It can actually stand in about five different positions.