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Lines of Light

Inspiring words of long-dead carvers.

When I started carving, whenever I could find them I gathered old books written by woodcarvers. And within them I found encouragement and knowledge, sent through time by some of those rare and talented beings who could explain what they were doing, how they were doing it, and the aesthetics involved. 

I'm sure I must have passed on some of this wisdom in my own teaching and writing but I thought I'd just pull out and share some inspiring words from the carvers themselves. The oldest is a quote is from 1885 -137 years ago! Even the latest is from 50 years ago.

Feel free to print them out and hang them over your bench.


"To do a thing for the love of doing it is the highest motive: and, where there is a singleness of purpose, to work as an amateur need not imply any inferiority. Anyone who contrives to fill their life by doing two jobs instead of one, as some artists are doing today, can at least claim the courage of their convictions. It is the standard of the work which alone matters".

Alan Durst: Woodcarving. Published by Studio Publications, London & NY. 1938


"Let none, however, be discouraged, for he who sets to work in earnest, determined from the outset to work with patience and perseverance, carefully and thoughtfully, will in the end produce something which may be pleasing to himself as well as those around him."

Eleanor Rowe: Hints on Woodcarving School of Art Woodcarving, London 1885


"The art of woodcarving, like other arts, can only be acquired by conscientiously following a course which experience and tradition have defined. Each step must be mastered before another be taken. Failure, as a rule, may be traceable to impatience, and to a want of thoroughness in carrying out details."

Thos. C. Symmonds: Woodcarving Bemrose & Sons, London 1910


"Like everything else where greatness is obtained, the noted figure carver is born, not made. If the divine stuff is not in them, no amount of training or practice can possibly make a famous figure carver. But ordinary mortals may readily attain an ordinary expertness and be able to turn out ordinary work – the kind of work that suits the ordinary world – which, after all, is most appreciated by the great mass of the people."

Fred T. Hodgson: Hodgson"s Art of Woodcarving. First Published 1905; Republished Algrove Publishing, Ottawa 2000


"... Many of us in the profession have a magpie acquisitiveness where tools are concerned and like to be equipped for all eventualities. This is quite unnecessary for someone who intends to carve occasionally. Indeed, some well-known highly successful wood carvers manage perfectly well with very simple equipment and prefer to do so."

Freda Skinners: Wood Carving Bonanza books, New York 1961


"When you begin to feel tired, relax for a while, preferably away from the workbench. Fatigue causes accidents—and it also causes you to ruin the work over which you have been toiling. It"s a great temptation to stick to a project as it nears completion. Avoid it. This kind of thinking leads to shortcuts and careless workmanship…

M. Vincent Hayes: Artistry in Wood David & Charles Newton Abbot UK 1973



Related Videos:

Click on any of the photos about to see the projects on Woodcarving Workshops from which they come.



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