Tools – Carving a Waystation

Each Thursday a group of volunteers who are gradually accumulating hours of carving experience meet in rural Norfolk at the Via Beata headquarters to work on the latest project. As much of this blog is written by our intrepid walkers we wanted to hear a little from the carvers who work on the artworks themselves.

This week – Reverend Steve writes about working with tools…

The challenges that face us can be the simple difficulty of lack of expertise and experience – when Steve says, ‘that’s quite good but you can just tidy it up a little here’, we who thought we’d finished, and that with some difficulty, think, ‘just WHAT?!!’ and then Steve takes the tool we’ve been using (just to prove it’s not the tool that wrong) and says, ‘here, like this’, or ‘no, no, just take it from the other direction like this’ and he makes it look SO simple. But when you do what he does, you realise, and learn.

Other challenges can be of scale – how to get an artwork carved on an 18 foot cross to Stratford-on-Avon, or more recently, how to get a tree trunk into the barn for carving. We inexperienced folk want to take shortcuts, like using power tools, and the ultimate sin for that little bit that is not quite smooth, sandpaper. But although the latter is a real no no as it will ruin the chisels, the use of power tools has been known.

It was with rising excitement that we realised Steve was going to let us use a chainsaw on the tree trunk. Unfortunately, the chain saw also got excited and sparked in an interesting and acrid way as it burnt out. Then, just as we got the new one, we nearly scuppered the whole project by mistaking which way was ‘up’ on the log and chain-sawed into it at the wrong angle, thus making Steve even more jumpy about allowing us such interesting tools! It’s been interesting to see just how big a piece of wood you need to do a moderately sized model in one piece – much bigger than you’d think. The leftovers warm Steve and Gill’s house in winter!