sign: Mary Mays School of Traditional Woodworking is Open

School is OPEN

July 11, 2012 MaryMay On-Line Woodcarving articles and TV interviews

My Online Woodcarving School is now officially OPEN! Click on the link above, or to the right to go to the site. I am offering 12 beginning videos for FREE! Once you start, you won’t be able to stop!

Come Join US.


Do you listen to music in your workshop?

April 22, 2014 MaryMay Wood Carving Tips

I’ve gone into quite a few different workshops and am always fascinated with what people listen to on the radio while they are working. Probably most often is classic rock. Then the next favorite is classical music (usually NPR). Country Western on occasion. Then there is talk radio that shows up here and there. There are very few times when there is just silence.

Which brings me to the conclusion (or maybe confirms my suspicion) that I am quite an odd person when it comes to this. I generally do not listen to anything while I carve or work in my shop. I do turn the radio on occasionally, but find that when I am really concentrating and focusing on a carving, the music ends up being a distraction and I end up turning it off. I think the only time I listen to any type of music is when I feel like I need to have distraction from what I am working on. This is usually when I am doing something very repetitive and I am past the point of really needing to concentrate or focus on what I’m working on. I find that I turn to listening to music as a distraction and it causes the time to go by faster.

I think also that I tend to really listen to the music, rather than just let it be something in the background – which can be more of a distraction that just passive background music.

And if you do listen to certain types of music, what types of music do you listen to that will inspire you when you are doing a particular kind of work? French polishing with French opera music? Celtic knot carving with The Irish Tenors? How about when you have to do a lot of really hefty mallet work you can listen to some really angry rap music.

Maybe I’ll just enjoy the “sound of silence”…




Marc Adams Fundamentals of Woodworking Class

April 19, 2014 MaryMay Wood Carving Tips

I just finished teaching a challenging but very fun class on the Fundamentals of Woodcarving at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking in Indianapolis, Indiana. These classes at Marc’s can be pretty intense because of the size (18 students) and the length of class (5 days).

It was a great group of students and they tackled some difficult projects, challenging wood, and long hours. We had a lot of fun along with a lot of carving.

I will be teaching a class again at Marc Adams on Classical Relief Carving August 4 – 8. There might be spaces still available and this is open to beginning carvers.

Rick and Robert diligently working.
David showing off his happy worms - first lesson on learning to work with the grain and get to know the tools.
Carving the camellia (can't carve too many of these!)
Is that a smile or grimace? Tim showing how to hand-carve (or is that carve-hand?)
Close-up of the "hand-carving class". Don't try this at home!
Andy's collection of beautiful mallets (recognize the brass one on the right?).
Bjorn's letter carving in mahogany.
Fan carving in mahogany.
A collage of relief carvings.
More completed carvings - and LOTS of shavings.
Andy's flamingo tool roll.
Linenfold carving in basswood.
Shell carving in mahogany.
Jim ventured into new designs in basswood on the last day.


Highland Woodworker Interview

April 18, 2014 MaryMay On-Line Woodcarving articles and TV interviews


Highland Woodworker has just published an interview with me on their “Web TV for Woodworkers” site – Episode 12. There are several other things happening on that particular show – You can also see Luthier Kipp Krosa and his beautiful musical instruments, Glen Huey talking about how to buy shellac that is not too old (who would have known?) and the Tennessee Barn Project where some of those amazing old barns are salvaged.

My interview starts at about the 29 minute mark.



Clean Workshop!

April 16, 2014 MaryMay Wood Carving Tips

These photos of my squeaky clean workshop were actually taken several months ago and it doesn’t look quite as tidy as it did back then.

I spent an entire week going through everything in my workshop, reorganizing it, cleaning it, and discovering things I haven’t seen in years. It was truly about time…

…and now I can’t find anything…

My workshop is approximately 12 ft wide x 36 ft long. It started out with a single shop about 12 ft x 12 ft. This is where I do my main carving and filming of videos.

Then when things were slow at my husband’s business, he kept his guys employed by adding a “porch” onto my workshop that was another 12 ft x 12 ft. Then about a year or so later, things slowed down again with my husband’s work and that porch was closed in to become my “center” shop. This part is usually used as an “overflow” from my original carving shop and where I have any machines that might produce dust (hate the stuff).

Then several years later, another downfall in the economy (which I benefitted from) – the guys put the third addition on – another 12 ft x 12 ft fully windowed room – sort of like a sunroom. This is where I do a lot of my castings and mold-making – a messy process that I want to keep completely away from any of my woodworking tools.

I love my workshop. It is my “happy place”.

My "original" shop with my wonderful Ulmia workbench. This is where I do most of my carving and filming of videos.
My "original" shop with some of my books - window looks out into my "center" shop.
My "original" shop where I now keep all my books and tools hanging on magnetic tool holders.
The entrance door and my Harbor Freight workbench (I'm so ashamed).
My "center" shop - the door and window goes into my "original" shop.
My "center" shop and "casting" room. The fact that you can see the floor is a miracle!
My "casting" room looking out onto my very neglected garden. Great windows!



Class space still available!

April 13, 2014 MaryMay Wood Carving Tips

One of the beginning carving projects - carving a camellia flower!

One of the beginning carving projects – carving a camellia flower!

I have several beginning carving classes coming up that still have spaces available. Come join us!

May 2 – 4, Connecticut Valley School of Woodworking I will be teaching a class on the Fundamentals of Furniture Carving. This is a beginning class where I will go over the basics of relief carving – acanthus leaf, shell & linenfold in shallow relief. Check out the full description by clicking the link to the school above.

I am also going to be teaching a beginning carving class in Germany! Yeah! I really want to make sure that it fills, so PLEASE, PLEASE if you are in the Berlin, Germany area June 19 – 21, please join us! It will be at the Dictum School.

Another class that still has spaces available is the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine. This is a full week class on basic carving techniques.

There are still some spaces available in classes later in the year also and you can see them on my class schedule.

Maybe my online video school isn’t helping my class enrollment? I wonder… maybe I’m creating my own competition! I guess that’s not a bad thing…


Carving a Cardinal video added to online video school

April 10, 2014 MaryMay Wood Carving Tips


A new project has been added to my online video school. It is a fully 3-dimensional carving of a cardinal in basswood. This is not the typical type of carving I have on the school. Most of the styles I do are classical decorative carving that go on either furniture or architecture.

I go through the process of how to get the general shape cut out with a band-saw. I also show how to keep strategic pieces of wood attached so that I can clamp it in my bench vice without having to hold it in my hands. These carvings are often held in your hands and carved with a whittling knife or palm gouges. I am MUCH more comfortable using my long-handled European gouges and clamp the work to my bench. Much less blood… all body parts away from the gouge…


Every Thursday (actually Wednesday evening) I add another video episode. Sometimes the lessons only have one episode – usually when they are less than 1/2 hour long. This project of carving the cardinal will be 3 episodes (approx. 1-1/2 hours total) and so far 2 episodes have been added to the school. The final episode will be added next week (can you handle the suspense?) The plot is pretty predictable.

I added a blog post previously describing this carving process in photographs.

If you haven’t seen my online school, I currently have 122 video episodes and more every week. 12 beginning video lessons are available for FREE!


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