Allen Stichler – Wood Carving

Bespoke Ornamental Wood Carvings & Tree Sculpture

   Aug 09

I’m Gonna Make You a Star (…Fish)

After the ammonite, on with the starfish…

One of the exhibits in the North Lincolnshire Museum



   Aug 08

Jurassic (in the) Park

A few more pictures from the early stages of the North Lincolnshire Museum tree:



With the ammonite fossil finished, I moved on to another exhibit from the museum’s Jurassic display ~ the starfish. I had just enough time to draw it on and make a start before heading home.


Back tomorrow!

   Aug 07

Mires Beck Carving Course Arranged for September

Another carving course has been organised at Mires Beck, North Cave, for the first three Saturdays in September (1st, 8th, and 15th).

Each day runs from 10am to 3pm with an hour for lunch ~ tea and coffee provided ~ and all tools and timber are provided too. The course is practically booked up, but we may be able to squeeze in one or two more on a first come, first served basis. This is likely to be the last course of the year.

For further details, either contact me (via the “contact” page here on the website), or Mires Beck directly: 01430 421543, or email



   Aug 06

Time for North Lincolnshire Museum

Children at Bushfield Road Infant School near the North Lincolnshire Museum, Scunthorpe, were handed the task of picking exhibits from the displays to be included on this sculpture; the idea being a time-line from the Jurassic Period, through the Stone, Iron and Bronze Ages to the Romans, Saxons and Vikings, on to the Medieval and then into the modern era. Twelve elements in all, and a nice beech tree stump to work on.

After the Scawby job and working on soft cedar, this hard beech was a bit of a shock to the system (and the elbow and wrist joints!), but I was quite satisfied with the first day’s work ~ roughing out the ammonite fossil from the Jurassic Period.



   Aug 06

Final Scawby Sculpture, Part 2

The final side of the village-themed sculpture, and the end of an enjoyable month in Scawby; I’ve made lots of new friends, met interesting people and been spoilt rotten by the villagers ~ who brought cake, ice pops, and even (on the last day) beer! With this VIP treatment and the lovely setting, I shall be leaving Scawby with very fond memories.

This side was similar to the first in as much as it featured another couplet from Scawby resident Greta Burkinshaw’s verse ~  but instead of carvings illustrating local trades, this time it was local features: the village water pump, St Hybald’s Church, the chimneys of Scawby Hall, and the old mill.

I started with the centre-piece  of the sculpture, the name “Scawby” in raised lettering ~ the style of which was taken from an old postcard, used on the back cover of Greta’s book, “Stepping Back in Time.”

This was followed by the lettering across the top and bottom, leaving the space along the middle for the carved local features. I tackled the village pump first, and it proved to be the most awkward piece; the proximity of two large and dense knots threw the grain in unpredictable directions, and some cracks stretched over areas which made delicate parts of the carved pump very fragile. There ensued much muttering under my breath and many areas re-worked several times.


Next, and with similar issues regarding the timber and knots, I worked on the church.

The right hand side of the log face was a lot better thankfully, and a return to the easily-carved cedar I’d enjoyed earlier. The old mill was a simple image to carve, reminiscent of a chess piece in looks and no detail to speak of. The chimneys were a little trickier, firstly composition-wise in trying to make an interesting carving from the subject matter, and secondly the abundance of parallel straight lines called for a lot of concentration. I do prefer carving subjects from nature rather than architecture ~ more margin for error!

After a little sanding to remove the remaining chainsaw marks, and the final oiling, the Scawby adventure was over.

A huge thank you to all the dog-walkers, cyclists, hikers, families and interested visitors who shouted encouragement, expressed appreciation, stopped for a chat and even made regular special visits to check the progress of the carvings ~ it meant a lot!

   Jul 29

Final Scawby Sculpture, Part 1

After the three benches it was time to move on to the “Toblerone-esque” sculpture, a double-sided piece which is to be set on a corner and be viewed from two directions; there was a little more freedom for me here, as benches have a slight restriction with designs ~ usually requiring simple, bold images which don’t impose too much on the comfort of those sitting on them!

The starting point for the design was a book entitled “Stepping Back in Time” by 5th-generation Scawby resident Greta Burkinshaw, which shared memories, history and photographs of the village. Greta was kind enough to help with ideas and her input was invaluable, and very fitting given her association with Scawby;  a poem included in the book was the basis for the design, and a couplet was chosen for each side of the sculpture.

The first side I tackled illustrated the trades of the village ~ the blacksmith , joiner, forestry and farming, with the text from the verse weaving amongst the carvings.


The first few hours was used to set out the design from my preliminary drawings, and to level out the face of the timber to some extent, as the surface was quite uneven after the chainsaw work.


I then worked on getting the cows established ~ they were to be looking over a wall, representing the village Pinfold, which still remains. Real cows have been a fixture during my time in Scawby, with them regularly watching me over the fence of the adjoining field.


Carving the joiner’s plane, the woodsmen’s saw and axe, and the blacksmith’s anvil and furnace. I was honoured to visit Mike Chatterton’s workplace, “The Forge” ~ just a few yards away from where I was carving. I took some photos of the anvil and tools and it was a wonderful experience ~ like stepping back in time, as the forge has been here for over 200 years.


Mike’s father and grandfather were blacksmiths, as are his sons and grandsons ~ and while we were there we witnessed Mike’s three year old great-grandson trying out his new hammer on a horseshoe!

Adding Greta’s words.


   Jul 10

Cemetery Seat for Scawby

The third and final log bench for Scawby ~ this one for the village cemetery; the simple design of ivy leaves and Forget-me-nots was decided on after studying Victorian Plant Symbolism, and framed the words (again chosen by the Parish Council) nicely.


Up until now the cedar had been a dream to work with, soft, dry and able to take a fair amount of detail; the outer sapwood edge of this log though was very fragile, crumbly and hard to carve. Luckily, with such a design there is a bit of flexibilty, and if a corner breaks off a leaf  it can be reworked without much upset.



   Jul 10

Scawby’s Second Seat

On to the second log bench, this one with a design to tie in with the text “Never be afraid to sit awhile and think” (chosen by the Parish Council). Such sentiments always bring nature to mind, so I decided on a hare and owl in opposite corners of the bench back rest.

I tackled the owl first, sitting in the top right corner…

…then the hare, which had to be set in quite deep due to a gouge from the chainsaw being in an awkward position.


There was a check and a bit of rot around the hare’s back leg which I had to get rid of too, meaning there was more work than anticipated. I think it worked out well though, the depth means the hare is revealed gradually as you approach from the side and gives the carving a bit more interest.

   Jul 09

Work Starts on Huge Scawby Cedar Logs

A huge old cedar tree was due to come down on the Scawby Hall estate ~ not far off four feet in diameter, and over 100 years old according to a rough count of the rings, it had stood dead for the last four years until the opportunity for a second life came along. The Parish Council had asked me to carve three rustic log benches plus a large “Toblerone”-shaped sculpture to be placed at various sites around the village, and the cedar was earmarked for the job.

As my chainsaw skills are limited to providing logs for the wood-burner, the task of taking a quarter-wedge from these 5ft- long logs was passed to local tree surgeons Alpine Tree Care.



It was a real battle for Dan of Alpine, the sheer size of the timber plus the awkward positions he had to get into made a hard job even harder; we were successful in rocking one of the logs over, enabling him to cut down vertically rather than horizontally, but the other two were situated on slight slopes or had lumps and bumps that meant they had to stay where they were.


Sanding down the surfaces after the chainsawing.

After all the sanding I made a start on the first bench, with a design of Peter Rabbit and Squirrel Nutkin; I found suitable images from Beatrix Potter’s illustrations and made a start. The main theme of the bench designs, plus the text that was to go on each of them, was decided by the Parish Council.


This was probably the easiest of the benches, so it was a nice one to start with. Three coats of oil and on to the next one!


   Jun 05

Carvings Installed at Jubilee Park

The handrail and panels have been installed at Jubilee Park, Woodhall Spa, with work on the Sensory Garden well under way.

The panelling looks fantastic, Mick at Jubilee Park has made a brilliant job of the installation.

The artist’s impression shows how impressive the sensory garden area will look ~ the panelled  wall is over on the right of the picture. I can’t wait to see it all finished.