Ahhh… spring time in Kentucky. The wildflowers blooming, the subtle shades of green as the trees slowly release their new leaves. The pleasant, cool crisp nights, the balmy days. And carving in the midst of that. Is this heaven? Maybe…
I am just finishing up 2 great carving classes at Kelley Mehler’s School of Woodworking in Berea, KY. What an absolutely pristine place this is. I call this a “woodcarving retreat” for me because I get the stay in this lovely cottage about 100 feet from the workshop while I teach. Three of my favorite things – relaxing, carving and teaching… Quite often the relaxing and carving don’t go together, but when they do, it’s great! Kelley and Teri Mehler are great hosts and I always enjoy my time teaching here.
Each class was 3 days long. The first one was a basic beginning class where we carved a snake (instead of the donut) the camellia flower, acanthus leaf and scallop shell.
Similar to the donut, the snake project works through a lot of grain issues. I had everyone draw their own snake – some were quite interesting shaped snakes, worms, amoebas, or other mysterious twisting organisms. You just never know where these things will take you… But we all learned a lot about grain!
I had Sunday off and went to Anglin Falls (about 8 miles from Berea) to view some amazing wildflowers. It was a lovely day, and I was absolutely mesmerized by the trillium that were blooming. I was inspired! I thought “hmmm. I wonder whether we could carve that for the advanced class next week.” So I pondered that…
The next day was the first day of the advanced carving class, and we spent that day carving a trillium! It was a great project, and since I was carving this for the first time myself, the students were able to see the process of sorting through a project from start to finish – how to think through the stages, what to carve first, how to not carve yourself into a corner you can’t carve yourself out of, etc. etc.
Then we went through a more advanced acanthus leaf carving – using mahogany. Much different world than basswood, but it’s good to let people get a feel for “real-world” wood (in other words, the kind of wood you would actually use if you were carving for furniture).
The final project was a sign with a flowing flag pattern. So we went over letter carving and also the linenfold process in one project.
Both classes did great. Well done ya’ll!
It is always exciting to see the progress that students make – sometimes they don’t even realize the gradual confidence level that builds over the days. It’s just great to see.