Course News

Wood carving demonstrations at the Museum

By 13 March 2015January 26th, 2021No Comments

There are many demonstrations to enjoy here at the Museum throughout the year. In addition to all of our own demonstrations, we are pleased to welcome visiting crafts people to demonstrate their skills to visitors at the Museum. In this article, we introduce the Daywood Carvers.

The Daywood Carvers’ is a group of around twelve enthusiastic woodcarvers. Formed over 30 years ago, the group meet to demonstrate the vanishing craft of woodcarving once a month in the Downland Gridshell at the Museum.

Visitors to the Museum often comment on the range of carvings on display; the high-quality carvings vary considerably, reflecting the varying skills and interests of the carvers.

The main wood used is lime, which is ideal for relief carvings as it has few characteristics to detract from the carving. Lime was used extensively in the 17th century by Grinling Gibbons who was probably one of the most famous British carvers.

Gibbons had a unique style of carving of naturalistic leaves, flowers, fruits and game birds. Often his carvings were a hybrid of these, each carved separately and then uniquely ‘joined’ to give the finished carving.

One of the Daywood Group, Alan Crockford, attended a course on Gibbons style and has created several carvings in this style. It is worth noting that Grinling Gibbons often left his carvings in their natural state, with no wax or oil applied.

Almost any hardwood (yew, oak, beech, birch, fruit wood etc.) as well as more exotic woods can be used. Some members specialise in relief carvings, some in lettering, some in wildlife and others more general carvings.

Although most carvings are waxed or oiled to show the characteristics of the wood, some are enhanced using pryrography (the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks) and others (birds in particular) are painted.

Some of our members are involved in gilding and the restoration of furniture and buildings, whilst others also carve in Portland and Zimbabwean stone, having attended courses at Tout Quarry Trust in Portland and at Hambrook.

When to watch the carvers in action at the Museum

The Daywood Carvers can be seen working in the Downland Gridshell building or the building from Lavant on the following dates (subject to change):

  • Saturday 27 February 2016
  • Wednesday 23 March 2016
  • Thursday 14 April 2016
  • Thursday 19 May 2016
  • Wednesday 22 June 2016
  • Tuesday 26 July 2016
  • Thursday 18 August 2016
  • Wednesday 7 September 2016
  • Thursday 6 October 2016
  • Saturday 12 November 2016

Considering carving?

People start carving in a variety of ways but most decide to attend evening classes under the guidance of a tutor. Two of our members, Jess Jay and John Vardon, currently run two woodcarving classes here at the Museum.

An important aspect of carving is learning to think in three dimensions. One of our members started to understand 3D work by carving large lumps of chalk from a chalk pit on the Downs. He used a lino knife, progressing to carve decoy ducks.

It is interesting to note that, due to the interpretation of current health and safety regulations, some schools are teaching an aspect of technology by carving soap using wooden or blunt metal tools.

To find out more about the Museum’s carving courses, visit our Working with Wood courses page.

About the Daywood Carvers

The Daywood group comprise both male and female carvers with ages ranging up to 91 years. Members have various skills and specialities – some have been carving for over 30 years.

The group is coordinated by John Vardon who has around 20 years’ experience. He is also Secretary of the Solent Guild of Woodcarvers and Sculptors.

About half the group are also Members of the Solent Guild of Woodcarvers and Sculptors based in Portsmouth who meet monthly at Portsmouth Grammar School during the winter.

The Guild also demonstrates at various outside events, including the Museum’s Wood Show and Autumn Countryside Show.