Woodcarving – natural forms with Alex Jones

Ref: S3D32333

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About this course

Explore the craft of woodcarving and its potential to depict the beauty and vibrancy of the natural world. Carve a decorative panel and learn about the safe use of woodcarving hand tools.

Course Description

The aim of this course is to start exploring the craft of woodcarving and its potential to depict the natural world all around us. Carving in relief is a great way to explore the beauty and vibrancy of nature, and it can be effectively brought to life in this natural medium.

You will start on the first day by shaping your panel with a chisel and a mallet, getting a feel for the tools and enjoying the process of paring back the block to your desired shape. Then you will be able to choose a subject from nature that interests you most. Having turned your subject into a design, you will then transpose it onto lime wood and be taught how to realise it in relief.

The safe use of woodcarving chisels, both with the mallet and carving by hand, will be an important part of your course.

You will be carving in a pre-cut, band sawn piece of lime wood, provided to speed up the process and allow for a quick application of the woodcarving tools and the creation of form.

You will also learn how to seal and finish your completed carving. This can be left as a natural wood finish or painted in any colours you choose – your tutor will direct you in the best approach, if you decide to continue with the piece after the course.

Having completed the course, you will be able to plan and design further shallow relief carving projects and be in the perfect position to develop your new found skills further.

Please note that carving is a physical process and requires standing for much of the time.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Sketch and tracing paper to work out your design
  • A piece of lime wood (approx. 22cm x 17.5cm x 3cm)

What students need to bring

  • Please source some ideas, photographs or sketches, which you may like to work from, on the theme of plants or wildlife.
  • A small sketchbook/plain paper with pencils and rubber
  • An ipad is useful if you have one.
  • Clothing and sturdy covered footwear, suitable for the workshop (no sandals)
  • The College provides carving tools for the course, but if you bring any of your own carving tools (chisels, mallets, gouges), please mark these with your name.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Graphite pencils/rubber/pencil sharpener

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear (no sandals or open toes).


Alexander Jones sculpture

Alex Jones

Alex Jones learnt his craft at City & Guilds Art College and in a traditional studio before concentrating commissions. His work can be seen at Durrell Wildlife Park, Jersey and the Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall. He has many pieces in private collections worldwide and has appeared on the BBC's Spring Watch and as a featured artist on the TV programme "Flog it!"


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Interested in a career in woodworking?

Our Foundation Degree specialising in Furniture is designed to give you well-rounded woodworking theory and craft skills to become a self-employed maker or craftsperson, to continue your studies in higher education or to find employment in the creative industry sector. Find out more