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Carving Art with Giles Newman

Over 6 weekends you will develop your woodcarving skills, your understanding of wood and your design skills to enable you to create functional and highly artistic carvings.

With a strong focus on Giles’ naturalistic approach to art woodcarving, you will learn to find, identify and sustainably gather suitable wood to carve with and work in harmony with the material, using the individual characteristics of the wood to guide your design and carving process. You will develop a deep understanding of wood, how it behaves when carved and how to use its strengths and weaknesses to best advantage.

Through both group and individual practice you will build up advanced knowledge and skill with edged carving tools including the axe, carving knife and hook knife. You will develop professional, adaptive knife handling techniques that enable you to create highly creative and unique carvings using just a basic carving knife.

You will learn how to find inspiration, how to think and design three dimensionally and how to artistically draw out your ideas (even if you don’t think you can draw!).

Each weekend will be structured around a practical spoon carving project on a specific theme with each following weekend adding further to the lessons in the previous weeks and building up to a final carving project in which students will use the full range of skills and the knowledge they have developed in order to create a truly unique masterpiece of their own.

Though the practical element of the course is focused on art spoon carving, the skills that students will gain are universally transferable into any other form of carving from sculpture to jewellery carving. Throughout the course students will be encouraged and supported to apply the techniques they have learned to other forms of woodcarving.

Weekend 1.

You will learn how to identify the character of the wood, mark make on wood and plan where to position the elements of a spoon. You will develop knife techniques for shaping to produce a spoon with a leaf shaped handle.

  • Understand wood – basic structure and characteristics
  • Understand the differences between green and seasoned wood
  • Design – how this is influenced by the character of the wood.
  • Basic art spoon design and layout
  • Mark making on wood and planning
  • Basic knife techniques
  • Hook knife usage
  • Tool care (honing and storing)

Weekend 2.

You will be shown how to create your own blanks by splitting and cleaning the wood by axe and knife. You will develop your understanding of how to read the wood and identify characteristics that will inform your design – an essential part in Giles’ process of carving. You will learn knife techniques to produce a spoon carved with a 3-dimensional design for the entire handle.

  • Finding wood
  • Tree / Wood identification
  • Characteristics of usable wood for carving
  • Splitting and cleaning wood by axe
  • Understanding wood behaviour when split
  • Cleaning up wood to create blank
  • Minimising waste wood and using off cuts
  • Thinking and designing in 3D and planning of depth
  • 3D knife techniques
  • Methods for drying wood
  • Finishing techniques

Weekend 3.

Further developing your skills, you will learn how to create cut outs in the wood to separate elements, create layers for depth as well as pattern and detailing techniques to produce a spoon that is inherently strong but incorporates cut out areas and fine carved details.

  • Thinking and designing in layers
  • Detail knife techniques
  • Undercutting to create layers of depth
  • Carving cut outs to separate elements in your design
  • Ornamental carving techniques

Weekend 4.

Giles will share ideas on how to find inspiration, draw out ideas, plan the positioning of the different design features within the wood, how to use the knife to create layers, carve faces and surface texture as you carve a bird themed spoon.

  • Finding inspiration and developing unique ideas
  • Drawing methods and techniques for woodcarving
  • Planning the positioning of the different design features within the wood (face, wings, wing size)
  • Considering the back of the carving.
  • Carving faces
  • Carving surface texture
  • Creating contrast and texture using various finishing techniques

Weekend 5.

You will consider the positioning of elements to utilise the strengths and avoid the weaknesses within the wood grain to create thin elements without sacrificing strength or functionality as you carve a spoon featuring an animal in motion or a flower spoon with multiple stems.

  • Designing around weaknesses and problems in the wood
  • Functional design (designing for different uses)
  • Structural design (designing for strength)
  • Using the grain to create and separate thin elements without sacrificing strength
  • Advanced finishing techniques

Weekend 6.

Drawing on the support of Giles as you need it, you will navigate finding and selecting your own wood, creating and carving a unique spoon design, inspired by the wood you have and using all of the skills you have gained through the course.

  • Sourcing / finding your own wood
  • Responding to the wood without an agenda – designing own spoon based on characteristics of the wood and skills gained.
  • Wood preparation using axe and knife
  • Advanced knife techniques
Schrijf je in!


april 4-5
mei 1-2
juni 6-7
juli 4-5
september 5-6
oktober 3-4

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