Day 3 of the Stone Carving Workshop in my workshop in Cambridge.


Pascale, (the French crime-fiction writing journalist and mother of two) was unfortunately called away, and so could not spend Day 3 completing her lovely curled up cat.  However, I am holding another course in January and if there’s space she could quickly lick it into shape then.

It also meant she missed a demonstration about how to achieve different textures, and how to sharpen tools, but likewise, she can pop over in January for that.

Bob, the other student,  is a roofer and a natural carver. This was the second time that he came on one of my courses, and in between he bought a recommended collection of chisels and built himself a work banker at home.  The hawk and rabbit (a portrait of his own Harrier Hawk) is the second ever carving that he has produced.  A real  testimony to his skill and commitment as it is in a ‘characterful’ (aka, interesting to look at, but nasty to carve) piece of Clipsham stone.  Having brought it in to show me, the sculpture stayed in the workshop during the course – I loved sensing it’s brooding power as it sat in the corner – and was sad to see it go.

On this course Bob decided to attempt a more three-dimensional design – the head of a ram (in a nice, smoothly consistent piece of Ancaster).  There wasn’t enough time over the three days to complete the sculpture, but the main features were established and we discussed how the work would progress. Bob has such an instinctive sculptural sense, it was a pleasure to see him working and I can’t wait to see the end result.

When I have 8 students on my residential Stone Carving Workshop, I spend the whole time moving between students or observing them work.  However, Bob and Pascale were so competent that I found I had time on my hands.  I didn’t want to work on my commissions (I knew I’d get sucked in and then fail as a teacher) so I started to carve a Christmas present for my mum; a figure of St Jacques of Compostella. 

It was a fun challenge for me, as I am used to working in a much more pre-meditated way, making a model in clay first to confirm the details.  It was disconcerting to carve in this unaccustomed direct way, and I think that the figure is somewhat more stilted as a result (for example no flowing drapery).  However I told myself that as he was a pilgrim it made sense that he looked like he had come to a weary halt, and any crudeness in execution could be passed off as ‘medieval’ in style (oouch – inexcusably cheeky I know).  Anyway, being a good teacher, I only gave it on-and-off attention, and it too remains a work-in-progress… maybe it will be finished by next Christmas?



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