Woodcarving – an abstract sculpture with Alex Jones

Ref: SLW30035

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About this course

This course is designed to help you choose and then explore the essence of a natural object. With this information you will then translate it in to a small three-dimensional abstract sculpture carved in lime wood.

Course Description

You will be guided through the drawing process, refining your design which could be based on a simple, rounded shape, such as a seedpod, simple shell or interesting stone. Then you will be introduced to the gouge, how to use it safely and to rough out your piece from a small block of lime wood. Your sculpture and its stand will be carved in a small limewood block (approximately 7cm x 7cm x 11.36cm) with proportions based on the golden ratio.

You will be taught how to use a woodcarver’s mallet and push carving techniques.

Through a process of sculpting and observing, you will hone your sculpture using different chisels, learning their role and the technique to use them. Your sculpture design may change as you go, a dynamic process, not fixed giving it room develop with each cut.

You will learn:

The importance of drawing and designing before carving

To realise a three-dimensional design in a block of wood

To build confidence in using different shaped chisels and understanding their purposes.

To produce textures and mark-making on wood.

About the different treatments and finishes that will complete your sculpture, in a fun, inspirational and supportive learning environment

The tutor will lead you through the process, step-by-step building up a richly textured carving, alongside the basics of sharpening woodcarving chisels and an introduction to the debate of woodcarving and its place in art. If you are an experienced carver you will be able to create your own design and helped to develop further your craft. Those of you with little or no experience will be introduced to the basics and given a structured introduction to woodcarving.

By the end of the course, you will have a basic understanding of the process of woodcarving and begun a personal exploration of woodcarving and its place in art. You will leave with a completed sculpture and the ability to plan for your next piece.


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


  • On this course the College will supply a block of limewood to carve, sketch paper and drawing materials, and tools will be available for use.

What students need to bring

  • Ideas/designs/starting points: source an item to use as inspiration. Rounded natural forms like a stone, seedpod or simple shell are ideal. If possible begin to think about the form your carving may take with some small three-dimensional sketches using modelling clay (e.g. Plasticine), also bring any photographs or sketches you have done on the form.
  • Apron/overalls and sturdy covered footwear (no sandals) are essential in this workshop.
  • The College provides carving tools for the course but if you bring any of your own carving tools (chisels, mallets, gouges) mark these with your name

Additional information

Wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. Safety boots, if specified. Please note that carving is a physical process and requires standing for much of the time.


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