Gouge

26 May

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I had a very enjoyable day showing Joe here and a small, but diverse group of people how to carve. As usual I had prepared a structured programme for the day taking the group on a short journey through letter carving to relief carving with some diversionary chisel sharpening tea and biscuits along the way.

During the week running up to the course my wife had collared me in my workshop and asked me what I intended to do on the course. I had hit upon the idea of getting the participants to carve a shield and heraldic crest, which would enable me to demonstrate the various ways in which a number 5 gouge and a skew chisel could be used to carve in relief. I thought I was being clever until my wife said “Not everybody will want to carve a shield”.

‘Bollocks’, I thought … ‘Well I have done some heart shapes too’

“Well if it was me I would want to carve the design from scratch”

‘I just want everybody to go away with something finished, or nearly finished, the course is only for one day’ By now feeling less convinced by my original idea.

“It’s your course” she said.

Well, as it happens neither Joe above, nor Ian below wanted to carve a heraldic shield. Joe wanted to carve a bowl and Ian had the ambition to carve a face in relief. Two out of the group of eight were showing worrying signs of independence.

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To be fair I was not phased by their spirit of adventure and both carvers produced work of a high standard: The beginnings of a tasty elm bowl for Joe and a very fine half face in a lump of cherry for Ian. Good job I threw some extra pieces of wood into the boot of my car!

Interestingly all four women on the course stuck with the programme and seemed happy to carve within the parameters I had set. All of them produced highly individual carvings and one, Lucy produced the strongest and boldest carving of the day:

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A beautiful imbolc tree imbued with a celtic knot. Not too shabby for a novice.

So dear students I can lead you to the fountain head, but you must drink of knowledge in your own way and of your own free will.

I will continue to find my wife’s astute observations, and a significant proportion of all students’ intentions, exasperating! 

 

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