As well as this blog, I also have a website and Instagram page with lots more images of my work as well as a few more stories.
If you like woodcarvings, you might want to have a look.

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Some of my favourite projects

I thought that, since quite a few people may just visit my blog and not my website, I'd put a few images on this blog of some of the pieces that I've made. It certainly isn't an exhaustive list, as the number of carvings done since 1994 (when I really got into carving properly) is well into the hundreds by now. These are not all of my favourite pieces either, just some of the ones that have sprung to mind - often because of very personal reasons such as the time and place where they were made .  I hope you enjoy seeing them!

If you would like to have a look at the website and see more of my work, just click on this link to go there: Website  

These are two views of the first carving that I made as an adult , which was the start of all of this. It is a walking stick which was carved in Ironbridge, Shropshire in 1994.The timber is hazel, from the woods in nearby Benthall Edge. The stick is carved most of the way down and took two months to make. It came in very useful when scrambling around on the steep slopes surrounding Ironbridge Gorge. The knife used was a number 10 Opinel knife. I still use the same knife to this day.

This little sleeping gryphon was carved from rose gum picked up in Australia in 1998. The wood was hard to carve and he turned out well. For those unfamiliar with 5 pence coins, they are 11 sixteenths of an inch (18 mm) in diameter. 

Most of my early carvings were small, as I spent a lot of time travelling and living out of a backpack. There are also limits to the size and type of carving that can be produced using only a lock knife and sandpaper.

This flower was carved in 1998,whilst staying at Onekaka, in the South Island of New Zealand. The wood is a shard of walnut from a broken shotgun butt. The blue crystal is kyanite, which I found in a nearby stream. The whole piece is about 8 inches (20 cm) long.

This pipe bowl, representing the green man, is carved from a special kind of stone called meerschaum. It was carved on and off over a period of several years from 1997 to about 2002. Hidden in the foliage are birds and fruit.

These are actually tools to eat wild cactus fruit,which were plentiful around the caves that I was living in at the time in the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Gomera in the year 2000. They are carved from brezo, the timber of the tree heather which is also used to make briar pipes.
The pronged tool, representing a cactus flower, is pushed into the fruit and then used like a handle to pull the fruit off the spiny plant. The spatula-like tool is then used to slice open the skin of the fruit and remove it. Any tufts of troublesome spines remaining on the fruit could be scooped out using the small gouge on the spatula. The fruit was then de-spined and ready to eat.


This carving was made on the 1st January 2000 on the beach at San Pedro in Andalucia, Spain. The wood is azinho (holm oak) from Portugal and the stone is calcite from the valley, rubbed down with an old whetstone. The tangled shape of the carving could refer to my uncertainty about what the coming year would bring, or the state of my head after a very big party the night before!

This was the first stonecarving that I ever produced in 2001. I still like it, even though it must be admitted that some of the facial proportions aren't perfect. The face seems to take on different moods depending on the lighting on it.

This carving, which I call 'Power slug', was made in 2002 from a variety of woods. The theme was to be continued a few years later in the 'metainsecta' series (see below).

The bowl shown above, like most of my work, was made from found wood, in this case from Fernworthy Forest on Dartmoor in Devon. The textured and smooth surfaces are wonderful to touch. When carving it in 2004, I was studying the work of the artist Richard Long, who can condense the tale of a walk of a thousand miles into a picture of a spiral which traces the path. The text carved onto the bowl tells a little about where the wood came from, so hopefully beginning the process of holding tales which the bowl was made for.

This 'scorpion fly' was carved in, I think, 2005. It is about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long. I have made a whole series of these carved critters and you can find out more about them by clicking on these links... Mechanical insects and More mechanical insects.  

In August 2008, I curated a group exhibition called 'Metainsecta' in Bristol. The scorpion fly was one piece exhibited. The show was a great success and led to two more 'Meta' themed shows, as well as the chance to exhibit some pieces in Bristol museum's Natural History section.

The piece shown below, called 'Velocivenator satiei', was shown in the second of these 'Meta' shows. To find out about the odd places that I picked up some of the timbers used and the meaning behind that strange name, click on this link:   V. satiei

In January 2009, I was offered a commission to repair an ebony sculpture by the late Zambian sculptor, Friday Tembo. The piece had been accidentally knocked from a mantelpiece and had broken into several fragments. The sculptor was a personal friend of the owners. Friday Tembo was one of Zambia's top sculptors, who exhibited internationally and had given them the carving himself. It therefore had great sentimental value to them, particularly as he had since passed away.
It was a real privilege to be given the opportunity to repair and restore this beautiful and interesting work. It represents a shaman in the process of         transforming between a man and a fish form.

Also in 2009 came the opportunity to make this 9 feet (275 cm) long oak bench, which was commissioned by the National Trust and is installed on Stokeleigh Camp iron age hill fort in Leigh Woods, Bristol. It was a fascinating project to work on and  the bench is carved all over with information about the rare wildlife and long history of the surroundng area. More information can be found by clicking here

..and in the same year, I carved this owl as part of a privately commissioned sculpture. I like what I see as his slightly disgruntled expression.

The 'gramophone weevil' was made in 2010, entirely from timbers collected at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire. Even the 'vinyl' is actually dust from charcoal burning there, cast as a 12" in resin. More information about this sculpture can be found by clicking on this link

A commission in 2010 saw me carving in Leigh Woods again, putting a memorial inscription onto a bench. One of the highlights was when the two young sons of the person being commemorated came to visit and had the opportunity to help carve some of the lettering themselves.

A commission in 2011 gave me the chance to carve the handle of a knife similar to my own Opinel. I had always wanted to try it, but never got round to it. The carving was done with my own number 10 Opinel, which you can see next to the carved one in the lower picture.

Also in 2011, I was commissioned to make a shop sign from solid oak. The design was worked out through discussion with the client and the finished sign measures 3 feet by 3 feet (90 cm by 90 cm). The project was a joinery one, a little different from my usual line of work, but I was very happy with the result:

And finally, I have to include working at the Boiling Wells site for St Werburghs City Farm in Bristol. Since 2009, this role has covered all kinds of things, from running green woodworking courses to renovating hazel coppice to working with young people who are out of education. It has been a chance to meet some incredible people and to work in one of the most beautiful secret places in the city.

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