Wood, carving and turning

Wildlife woodcarving in relief with Alex Jones

Ref: SLW09358


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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 wood carving 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; both flora and fauna 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 pairing 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 on to lime wood and be taught how to realise it in relief.

The safe use of wood carving chisels, both with the mallet and carving by hand will be an important part of your course and will be introduced. You need to be prepared for the physicality of carving as it requires standing for much of the time. You will be carving in a pre-cut band sawed piece of lime wood to speed up the process and allow for a quick application of the woodcarving tools and the creation of form.

Towards the end of the course you will also learn how to seal and finish your finished piece of carving. This can be left in the natural wood 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.

The aim of the course is to offer the confidence to be able to plan and design further shallow relief carving projects and be in the perfect position to develop your new or enhanced skills further.


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, 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 supplies sketch and tracing paper to work out your design and a piece of lime wood.

What students need to bring

  • Source some ideas, photographs or sketches which you may like to work from, on the theme of plants or wildlife.
  • Clothing and footwear suitable for the workshop (open sandals must not be worn in the workshop).
  • Ideas/designs/starting points
  • Though the College provides carving tools for use on the course, you may like to bring your own if you have them (chisels, mallets, gouges). Please mark any tools you bring to the course with your name.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Lime wood (if you require an additional piece)
  • Graphite pencils/rubber/pencil sharpener

"Excellent tutors and facilities including options to stay and add breakfast and dinner to your course. 
My Tutor Alex Jones is a super tutor taking time to both explain and show you. This is the second course I’ve undertaken at West Dean and would thoroughly recommend all the courses on offer - a fabulous location and great options to study."

Kirsty, 2019


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.

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