Last week I taught a 2 day basic relief carving class at a great new school – The NC Furniure School in Winterville, NC. Stuart Kent, who is the director and founder of the school, has quite an extensive history with furniture and sculptural woodturning. He really does some amazing work, and the massive size of some of his woodturnings defy physics. Check out his website here to see some of his work.
I admire anybody who is bold enough to start a new school. It is difficult in the best of economies, but in little ol’ Winterville, NC it can be quite a challenge in getting the word out about a new school. I would encourage anybody who is interested in learning beginning or advanced furniture making to look into his classes. 2016 classes should be listed on his site soon.
The class went great, lots of chips were made, and flowers were blooming! We started with a very basic project just to get familiar with the tools and then carved a project that covers so many carving techniques – the camellia flower. A lot of overlapping elements, some curved and twisting leaves, and the rose carving technique (camellias are so similar to roses) of starting from the center of the flower and carving each consecutive petal as it relates to the previous carved petal. It can be a real brain tease keeping track of the petals, but if you take it in a systematic approach, and focus on one petal at a time, it begins to make sense quickly. Then you take each petal and see how it relates just to the petals immediately next to it. Before you know it, you’ve got a complete flower carved!
Below is the template I use for class, and also for my School of Traditional Woodcarving. This is one of the lessons available to free members of my online school. You should be able to print this out if you click on it. Also, here is a link to written instructions on how to carve the camellia.
Quite often in my classes I have either professional or hobby woodworkers wanting to embellish their furniture or woodworking projects with carvings. This time there was a slightly different element to the class. A world renowned sculptor and retired art professor, Carl Billingsley, decided to join our “whittling” class. Carl has probably hundreds of his sculptures displayed in private and public galleries and parks through the US and internationally. Many of his sculptures are well over 8 feet tall, bold and aggressive carved pieces of stone or steel and cast metal welded together into various dramatic shapes. I have to admit, I was a little intimidated at first – knowing his own experience with sculpture and teaching. But very soon into the class his gentle, humorous personality assured me that all would be fine. We ended up having some great class discussions where his contributions and insight into 3-dimensional art opened everybody’s eyes to greater understanding. I learned a lot in this class! I could tell that this detailed, small and precise carving was much different from what he was used to, and he said as much. Who knows, maybe he’ll decorate these large, bold metal sculptures with little delicate camellias all over them! Maybe not…
Find out more about Carl and his work here on his website.