Carving in stone and wood

Sculptural woodcarving with Peter Clothier

Ref: SWE09076

Suitable for all

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About this course

Design and make a small sculpture in wood using an initial sketch model in Plasticine, producing templates then carving a finished piece. Learn how to use chisels, rifflers and abrasive materials for exciting surface effects.

Course Description

On this course you will be taught how to design, make templates, choose a suitable timber and select and use the correct tools (the tutor will discuss tools and materials with you after introductions on the first evening) to create a small wood sculpture (approx. 225 X 100 x 30 mm). This will involve making a sketch model of your ideas (help will be given) in plasticine and from that producing templates which will help with grain alignment and wood selection. The general shape will be produced by band sawing (tutor) and then selection of suitable work holding methods.

The next stage will be carving the shape with chisels followed by final shaping with rifflers etc, with the use of various abrasives giving a sculpted surface. Some sculptures may be left with tool marks if preferred.

Finally we will look at various options for finishing the sculpture such as wax, Danish oil etc.

Guidance as to the suitability and choice of subject will be given and most students should expect to finish a piece of sculpture by the conclusion of the course. Please bring any pictures, drawings or other illustrations of any subject that you would like to make. Resource materials in the form of a very good library and the internet are available for students use.

Complete beginners, as well as those with previous carving experience are very welcome to join the course.


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


  • The cost of carving timber (lime wood), and a piece of Plasticine for modelling.

What students need to bring

  • Tools - these may be borrowed at the College but, if you wish to bring your own tools to use or sharpen, please make sure they are marked with your name.
  • Bring photos, drawings and any other resource material to help you design your chosen subject. Your sculpture can be realistic or abstract.
  • You may also be interested to read the tutor's book Sculpting Wood by Peter Clothier, published by A C Black 2007.

Available to buy

  • Additional timber for carving
  • HB Pencil , 2B Pencil
  • A few sheets of A4 paper
  • Rubber
  • Plasticine
  • Armature wire


Peter Clothier

Peter Clothier trained initially as a woodcarver and later as an antique furniture restorer at West Dean College. Later still he spent three years studying Sculpture at City and Guilds Art School. Peter tutors woodcarving and wood sculpture at West Dean College beside being a freelance carver and restorer. He has contributed articles for Woodcarving Magazine and his book Sculpting in Wood is published by A and C Black.


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

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