Allen Stichler – Wood Carving

Bespoke Ornamental Wood Carvings & Tree Sculpture

   May 09

Thoresby Primary School is Totemtastic!

The second school to participate in the Totemtastic project, Thoresby Primary School in Hull had some enviable and glamorous history to incorporate into their design ~ Dorothy Mackaill, a notable silent-film actress went to the school. The Thoresby bell dates back to 1902 (by the same company who cast the bells at St Paul’s, London, and York Minster) and can be heard ringing out every morning, welcoming the pupils into school, so this seemed a good addition to the carving too.





   Apr 27

Collingwood Primary School is Totemtastic!

Collingwood Primary School set the ball rolling with the Totemtastic project, being the first of eleven Hull schools involved.

Here are some photos from the three day sessions:


The design was decided by the pupils and features the school logo of a ship, and two hands simbolising friendship.




   Apr 13

Blast from the Past

My pals Steph and Karen sent this photo from near Thixendale recently ~ strange seeing one of the 15 posts I did all that time ago (2012?). I’ve only seen a couple of the posts in situ, so it’s a nice picture to have. Photos of the other 14 would be nice, Steph!

   Apr 12


With the Totemtastic schools project due to start on the 24th April, I took the opportunity (between coats of oil on the Alver Country Park job) to take the bark off the first log at Collingwood Primary School in Hull.

All done! With a few feet left at the base to set in the ground, the rest is stripped of the bark, all ready for the Collingwood pupils to do their stuff on the w/c 24th.

   Mar 28

Last Session at Mires Beck

A depleted last week at Mires Beck as the carving course came to a close ~ Kerry was away due to family commitments, and Paul may have found it difficult to continue having removed two fingers in a DIY accident….!

Everyone else finished up with some tremendous carvings, and here are a few snaps:

Drew with his fabulous elephant

Debbie’s brilliant Green Man

Jackie’s dramatic flying owl

Arthur with his lovely owl

Tony’s fantastic mouse panel

The plan is to have another course around late September time ~ watch this space!

   Mar 21

Back at the Beck Part 2

More photos of the progress at Mires Beck,  as the participants enter week two…..

Arthur’s owl coming on nicely….

….as is Jackie’s….

…..and Kerry’s too!

Drew’s elephant is looking good

Tony working on his mouse panel

Debbie’s Green Man taking shape; her partner Paul was an absentee this week after losing two fingers in a DIY accident ~ hope to see you back in action soon!

Last session next week!


   Mar 21

Back at the Beck

Week one of the first woodcarving course of the year at Mires Beck; in previous times we held up to three such courses at the venue in North Cave, but my workload restricted this last year. Things soon fell into place with the participants wasting no time in producing a mound of wood chips around their feet.

Jackie, returning to the course for the third time, with an owl in flight….

…and her dad Arthur, also creating an owl

Drew with his elephant carving

Another owl, this time created by Kerry

Debbie, back for her second workshop, this time tackling a Green Man

Paul making a good job of his kangaroo

Tony, on his fourth course, and working on a mouse climbing an ear of wheat.

Good stuff!

   Mar 21

A Busy Three Months….

It’s been so hectic since Christmas that I’ve not even had chance to update this page; full posts will follow once the customers have their sculptures in place (as I like to keep things under wraps til then), but I can at least give a brief description of the pieces:

Two sculptures for Pickering Park, Hull : one in the style of a fishing trawler net, the other commemorating Christopher Pickering and the legacy he left to Hull.

A large wildlife “totem”, a 12ft x 4ft oak sign and oak trunk supports, and several oak marker posts for Alver Country Park in Hampshire.

I have a deadline of the end of April for the Alver Country Park work, and I’m on schedule (fingers crossed!); after that I’m straight on to the “Totem-tastic” workshops, involving eleven Hull schools and communities for the following few months. I’ll give more details nearer the time.

Excuse me while I have a lay down!

   Dec 30

Wildlife in Harmony

As I said to the customers, this was pretty much the perfect job ~ relatively local (being about 5 minutes away from home), a nice setting, and regular cups of coffee ~ what more could you want?!

The idea was to incorporate some of the wildlife seen in the garden on a felled sycamore trunk; it was an interesting shape, splitting into two then coming back together at the top, and it was to be concreted in position soon after completion.

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The preliminary sketch above shows how I intended to fit the stylized birds and beasts into the shape of the trunk.

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The picture above shows my trusty rusty adze, which was invaluable in this job. Chipping away large areas with a gouge would be time consuming, but the adze helped me to hack off big sections in next to no time.

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Using the shape and curvature of the split trunk to my advantage with the owl’s wings.

The next stage was the squirrel above the fox’s nose, and just like the other elements I drew him on free-hand with chalk, followed by felt tip.

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Incidentally, this area where the squirrel and dragonfly were to be situated had a fabulous zig-zag pattern on the bare wood once the bark was removed:

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The weather became a bit unpredictable at this point, with several heavy showers cutting the carving day short, so to prevent me exploding with frustration I rigged up our faithful budget-price gazebo, which although reaching the end of its lifespan was slightly better than being exposed to the lashing rain.


The damp weather meant that I could observe the different stages of a shaggy ink cap toadstool:

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Anyway, the next step was the squirrel’s tail and a dragonfly, which mirrored the fox and the owl somewhat with their over-and-underlapping.


From this picture you can see that I had to achieve quite a bit of depth around the squirrel’s tail to enable me to give it a sense of dipping under the tail of the dragonfly ~ again, my adze was useful in removing large chunks in a shorter time.


I had some decisions to make with the underside of the dragonfly’s wing, as I couldn’t go too mad with the undercutting; I couldn’t make it so fragile that it would weather and drop off prematurely, but on the other hand I didn’t want to leave the wing so thick that it looked odd. I had to scoop away with a spoon gouge to ensure that the main front view was good, whilst leaving enough wood to support the wing; I also had to blend in the area next to the squirrel tail and above the dragonfly.

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Once the background was established, I finished off the wings and head/body:


I started on some acorns and an oak leaf next, under the squirrel.



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After the oak, a horse-chestnut leaf with conkers, and a sycamore leaf.


After three coats of Danish Oil, the trunk was set in the ground close to the house so it could be viewed from inside.


   Oct 08

YWT Benches and Posts Delivered

I had my work cut out to complete 25 oak marker posts and 5 log benches for Barlow Common Nature Reserve (Selby) before the end of September ~ but I did it! Working from a list of wildlife/flowers supplied by the volunteers, I started carving the marker posts, methodically going through the sheet at a steady pace. I’d calculated a maximum of 2 days per post to enable me to keep within the time frame, and in the end I managed it with a week to spare.


The oak posts freshly milled and delivered ready to be carved.

With green oak it’s inevitable cracks will develop, but I kept it to a minimum by waxing the ends of the posts and working on the sides furthest away from the heart ~ the plan being that if any splits did occur they would naturally be worse on the side nearest the heartwood. Any small cracks that proved distracting were filled with slivers of oak and wedged and glued in.


A batch waiting to be oiled ~ all had three coats of Rustin’s Quick Drying Outdoor Danish Oil, which gives a great finish.

Once the posts were delivered, the volunteers at Barlow Common got to work digging and setting them in :

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As usual, the delivery and positioning of the log benches was in the more-than capable hands of Pete Bowser (Pete Bowser Tree Services) ~ I’m indebted to Pete as I really couldn’t do these benches without him: he sources the timber, stores it and saws it, and then (once I’ve carved them in his barn) delivers them and places them in position. He’s also come up with a great method of providing a sturdy base for the benches, by using the cut-out section from the log to create solid, unmovable feet. Thanks Pete!

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Even the drama of the fork-lift fan-belt coming off couldn’t stop him!

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