Allen Stichler – Wood Carving

Bespoke Ornamental Wood Carvings & Tree Sculpture

   Sep 07

St George’s and the Dragon

You wait ages for a dragon, and then two come along at once; a matter of weeks after completing the Newport Primary School dragon, another set of workshops was arranged at St George’s Primary School in Hull ~ and what else could the carving be but another dragon?

I had originally been commissioned to carve a log bench for the school in memory of a pupil who had tragically died suddenly, with the children choosing the designs.

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The interest and enthusiasm for the bench led to the idea for the workshops, and a nice straight length of beech was subsequently delivered.

I’d come prepared with some drawings, and got to work drawing the dragon onto the trunk with a graphite stick.

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The hardest technique for young children tends to be using the V tool, so I usually start them off.

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I gouged a little around the shape to make the dragon clear, so the younger pupils could grasp what we were doing.

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At the end of the first day, the dragon is already leaping off the trunk. After day two, the body and wings are starting to get some shape….

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After the last session ~ and our dragon is alive!!!

 


   Sep 07

Newport ~ Here Be Dragons! (Well, Just the One Actually)

As part of the ongoing work at Newport Primary School, we had a big trunk to make use of in the form of some workshops with the pupils. The plan was to carve something more mythical than the wildlife on the marker posts, and the pupils decided on a fearsome dragon, the design of which they planned with a number of sketches:

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My job was to amalgamate all these great sketches into one design, and mark it on the trunk ready for the pupils. As with other school workshops the aim was to include every single pupil in the process, starting with the youngest; it worked a treat, the only problem being dragging the pupils away at the end of each session.

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After only three days the dragon was complete.allen-stichler-woodcarving-newport-primary

I think he looks friendly, more Pete’s Dragon than Smaug!

The pupils are now deciding on a name for their creation.


   Jul 25

Newport Values

The next three carvings at Newport Primary School were to have reference to the school’s “values”: “Reach for the Stars”, “Love to Learn” and “Work Together”, each with a design incorporating something from the children’s books “The Gruffalo” or “The BFG.”

I started with “Reach for the Stars” and the BFG; the wood looks pretty uninspiring when the bark is stripped, with the timber quite stained and messy, but once the carving begins the crisp whiteness of the poplar is a lot more pleasant.

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The classic Quentin Blake illustrations for the Roald Dahl book are instantly recognised, but it was slightly tricky giving them some depth and making them work as a carving as they are rather “flat”.

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I reversed the image to make it sit more comfortably on the shape of the log, and made Sofie, the little girl, a bit bigger otherwise she would’ve been almost invisible.

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Starting on the upper body, the whiteness of the wood showing through once worked on.

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The finished log, complete with Sophie and the lettering.

“Love to Learn” next, and this time with the Gruffalo being the main subject.

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For the final log, it was another Gruffalo theme ~ the mouse on this occasion, with the words “Work Together” above.

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It’s quite tricky to draw the design on this surface; once the bark has been stripped the wood is still  “green” and so pretty damp.

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Again, once underneath that top layer the wood looks bright and fresh.

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With the lettering finished and some Danish Oil, the school values are complete.

 

 


   Jul 23

New Newport Pieces

This has been a nice job, working in a nice environment with the enthusiastic staff and children of Newport Primary School ~ and lots of timber to plough through.

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The smaller stumps are being utilized for a nature trail in the school, and further to that there are a few larger logs which are being used for the school’s mottoes or values; a ten-foot trunk was earmarked for the pupils’ workshop sculpture.

Previous posts have shown the ongoing process, with an owl, frog and squirrel already carved; I plumped for a snail on the next one, so once a suitable log was found I set to work copying my sketch onto the surface.

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The poplar wood is so soft it’s easy to make good progress relatively quickly.

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I think the patterns on the shell make all the difference.

A  quick detour after the snail, to carve some lettering on a log bench which is a popular spot for the pupils.

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A rabbit next, the last element of the wildlife trail.


   Jun 06

Barrow Weekend Carving Photos

Photos from this year’s Barrow Wheelbarrow Weekend, where enthusiastic young apprentices again stepped up to the challenge of creating a log carving between them ~ congratulations to all of those who took part, and thank you for another lovely weekend!

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I drew the crow onto a nice piece of beech (the other half was used for the running hare last year)and waited for willing volunteers…

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Christopher, Sophie and Spencer all concentrating…

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Matthew, John and Jack all hard at work…

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Alex. Phoebe with their Dad….

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Ellie, Lydia, Milly and Isabel doing a great job…

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Alfie, Ashleigh, Amber and Amelia with some impressive carving…

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Charlie, Alfie, Adam and Lucy-Bell working towards the final stages.

A selection of the barrows I managed to see before we got cracking with the carving:

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   Jun 05

Sentiment-owl Cherry

Trees can become a big part of a family’s life ~ a focal point and imposing presence, always there when you look out of the window or play in the garden, and an indication of the changing seasons and passing years. Sadly, eventually trees reach the end of their lifespan ~ and if they need to taken down they can leave a large hole in more ways than one.

This cherry at Dunswell, East Yorkshire, was one such tree ~ children and grandchildren had grown up around it and the family were very sad to see its demise. Docking the tree at a decent height and carving an owl and a small seat gave it a further life and meant the tree could still be enjoyed, just in a different way.

I carved a simple owl looking over the wall, framed by cherry leaves at the top and ivy leaves around the bottom. The cherry wood was extremely hard, and the trunk curved towards me as I tottered on my ladder, making it quite an awkward piece considering the simplicity of the design. Instant sciatica!

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Grandson Noah with the clay owl he had made that day.

Next was a small seat on the side facing the garden, fashioned from a stump left by the tree surgeon. I had to level out the back rest first which was the time-consuming part, after that the lettering was straightforward.

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“While I blossomed I watched you blossom” ~ a nice sentiment thought up by the family.

 


   May 25

Print Frenzy

I don’t know what’s happened, but Beverley Folk Festival is a few weeks away and I feel almost organised! The usual panic hasn’t set in, and I’ve managed to create three new woodcuts ~ a fox, a frog and of course another hare. The fox block was started at the Artisans in Action event and it all just seemed to flow from there ~ a couple of days of rain helped too, with any outdoor work called off.

allen-stichler-wwodcut The first colour blocks for the frog and fox…

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…and the first print

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The second colour added, and the prints hanging out to dry.

Once mounted and wrapped, we’re ready for Beverley.


   May 25

Game of Thrones

I finally got to work on the two thrones for St Mary’s Primary School in Beverley, East Yorkshire, which were to be situated in their impressive wildlife area. I’ve previously posted pictures of Pete Bowser sawing one of the trunks to shape for me, but Pete has recently sent me and the school some pictures of the tree being felled ~ and it was great for the pupils to have a record of the entire process.

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I started with the owl-themed throne, which showed one of our feathered friends reading a book and surrounded by some text. A pretty straightforward task, and although the turkey oak was a bit moist and stringy it was still nice to work with.

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After the lettering the challenge was to find somewhere to squeeze in a caterpillar, which had been the idea of one of the pupils. I struck on the idea of utilizing one of the arm rests, which I began shaping with an arbortech.

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allen-stichler-story-telling-thrones  The throne in position.

The other throne, again part-designed by the St. Mary’s pupils, featured a dove, a rainbow and flowers ~ with some more text above and below.

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Thanks again to Pete Bowser who expertly delivered and positioned the thrones!

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   May 25

Artisans in Action

A well organised and well attended event at the Forest Pines Hotel and Golf Resort, Brigg; “Artisans in Action” is far removed from your average craft fair, with everyone involved required to demonstrate their craft as well as selling the finished product. In the words of the organisers: “those involved behind the scenes of any of our exhibitions/sales are like-minded in their enjoyment of materials and the making of things, and in their wish to raise public awareness of not only what materials/processes are involved in various crafts and arts but also the effort and dedication of those whose works are on display ~ work of the highest quality, made with love, skill and attention to detail.”

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Not having any transportable carving work on the go, I took the opportunity to start another wood-cut block in readiness for new Beverley Folk Festival stock; I managed to finish the main design for a new print featuring a fox, and added to the nice people we met over the course of the weekend it was a success in every way. Sadly this was the last event of its kind, as after five years the organisers are moving on to other things ~ although we are part of a Christmas Fair at the same venue later this year.

 

 


   Apr 17

The Burning Times

John, a participant on the recent Mires Beck woodcarving course, kindly lent me his pyrography kit to play about with. I must admit I found it quite enjoyable, and I fancy doing a bit more; I set my ambitions low and attempted a simple line drawing of a hare (what else?!) on a spare bit of plywood. A quick Google search told me that oak is not really suitable as the grain is too bumpy ~ a shame as I had a nice piece set aside; the cheap plywood seemed to work pretty well though, and was good enough for a learning curve.

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I was reasonably satisfied with my first attempt ~ the trick is not to look at superior work on the internet! I’ve ordered a budget kit this week, so I’ll see if I can learn as I go along.