Allen Stichler – Wood Carving

Bespoke Ornamental Wood Carvings & Tree Sculpture

   Aug 20

Background Information

Usually with pieces like this I complete a lot of the main design before linking them together with some decorative elements, such as leaves etc, at the end ~ this time I thought it best to draw a line under the two areas on the front and side of the tree stump, and so worked on the background design before moving on to the Roman helmet.

I found some illustrations of archaeological finds, where the different layers of earth were shown as wavy lines with small shapes representing stones here and there, and adapted that idea for the Jurassic background.



The zig-zag pattern was used for the Stone, Iron and Bronze Age background, as it has been used as a style of decoration for as long as Man has embellished his home, weapons, utensils and vessels.

I’d earmarked a round area near the top of the stump for the next item, a Roman helmet.

A good start, more tomorrow!

   Aug 18

Back in Harness

Back at the Museum this morning, and the first task was to do a bit of faffing with the Stone Age axe; as usual, my opinion on the day’s carving altered once I had got home and studied photos, so I made a few notes and sketches and made a mental note to deal with that first. Sometimes you can get too wrapped up in something and not be able to see what should be staring you in the face; photos seem to help as they filter all distractions away and leave the important part, warts and all. I’ve done lots of carvings that seemed to me to be top drawer on the day, only to have my illusions shattered when I studied photos ~ leaving me desperate to alter the carving soon as possible so I could sleep soundly again!

After my corrective work for half an hour or so I got back on to the harness mount. I had originally envisaged this taking me up til mid afternoon but there was more to the design once I studied pictures, and all done at an awkward height  near the bottom of the tree.


I’m a bit undecided about whether to start on the Roman helmet tomorrow or to do the background work on the Jurassic pieces….stay tuned!

   Aug 15

Stone Age Carving

To compliment the Bronze Age axe, the pupils at Bushfield Road Infant School (Scunthorpe) had chosen a Stone Age axe-head to be carved on the tree stump; I adapted the idea at the last minute as I thought the axe-head alone would look a bit ambiguous (see photo) and may appear to be a giant floating triangle. I looked at the museum’s display and decided to use the example with a reconstructed handle. which balanced nicely with the Bronze Age axe below.

The “floating triangle” axe head…

And the display example


Once I’d worked on the Stone Age axe I altered the Bronze Age one, just narrowing the blade and the handle a little.

The next item was an Iron Age harness mount, a nice-looking symmetrical object found at Dragonby, North Lincolnshire.


I spent a bit of time leveling out the surface between the Jurassic carvings and these newer pieces; there are going to be some background patterns which will bring the carvings together and make each item look less isolated. Next job is to finish the harness mount though!


   Aug 13

Wood Axe

Managed to finish the Bronze Age axe today, in between dodging the showers and making dashes for cover. It was trickier than expected ~  although the raised area on the trunk was perfect for the axe shape, the grain was unpredictable and hard to work. Even the simple task of shaping the axe handle was time consuming, the background had me whinging, and my expected early finish didn’t materialise. It looks ok though, pretty much like the museum exhibit I think.


   Aug 11

End of the Jurassic Period

I managed to finish the starfish in good time today;  with the museum closing at 4pm on a Saturday I was pleased to be able to make a start on the Bronze Age axe before heading home.


There’ll be some background shapes linking all the objects together eventually, but I thought it best to work on the foreground designs first.

The Bronze Age axe (found at Scotter) in the museum:

I’ve reversed the axe so it fits nicely on to a raised area, utilising the shape of the tree.


There will be a Stone Age axe head on this side too, and an Iron Age harness mount (found at Dragonby).


   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!