Jo is currently making more contemporary-styled work but said that fancied carving the panels to make sure that he doesn't lose the skills that he learnt in Bavaria from his father.
They are both carved from lime (linden) wood. It's interesting to see how he gets the shapes on the relief panel by cutting planes into the timber; flat surfaces that add up to give the curved surfaces making up the design. He also much prefers a finish that shows the tool cuts, rather than one that is sanded. We agreed that the latter can look very 'plasticky' if done badly.
Jo noted that things tend to be in threes in Bavarian carving (see the three dogs in the panel). He also showed me a small figure that he carved under his father's guidance when he was about fifteen or sixteen years old. His dad gave his a small carving knife and told him to whittle it using that and no other tools. It seems like a good way to learn the importance of working with the wood without relying on your tools to do everything for you.
Guild journeyman carvers dress, like other wood-based trades, in black with a black hat. The earring that they wear in the left ear is of gold, with a small carving tool (gouge, mallet etc.) that they have carved from wood fixed to it. Like other woodworking guilds the ear is pierced using a rusty nail, which the journeyman will then carry on them often in their hat band. We discussed how sad it is that the traditional skills have become more fractured in Britain, which does not have a guild system in the same way. There is a 'Guild of Master Carvers' in existence here, but it is a very different kind of thing.
Jo has a show in Bath at the 44AD gallery from the 7th to the 13th of October 2013. You can see some of his current work from a previous show here.