I spent the past week in a carving class taught by Mary May at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking. Although I have incorporated simple relief carvings into several pieces over the past several years–some doves and petunias, a grape vine with a cardinal, a stylized tulip, the odd sunburst or daisy–I had never had any formal instruction in carving. What finally moved me to sign up for Mary’s class was the frustration I experienced on carving a decorative edge for “Corona Plumosa,”** the 1920s Spanish Renaissance Revival-inspired piece I built for an Indiana University Arts Week grant-funded project. The decorative edge effect, which Mary informed me is called “gadrooning,”* seemed flatter than the antique examples on which I had based it.
I was ready to learn some official carving techniques.
Mary is a great teacher. She explains principles and processes clearly and will demonstrate techniques as many times as necessary. Having her minute paring cuts magnified on a pair of large screens was invaluable; in fact, her movements became so deeply etched (or carved? ouch) in my mind that I literally dreamed about them last night.
I can’t wait to put some of those techniques into practice.
Mary teaches at other schools, and for $10 a month, you can gain access to her online carving school. She also has several videos. See her website for further information.
**The name is misspelled on my website. It should be Corona, not Corono. (I’ll ask Jim to fix this as soon as he returns from sailing.)
*According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word, which is sometimes spelled “godroon,” is likely related to the French goder, to crease or pucker.