The Worshipful Company of Carpenters
In early 2017 the Carpenters Company asked The Woodcarving Studio to create a design for two carved wooden panels for the entrance area of the ground and first floor of the hall.
The only brief we were given was to integrate the Company’s Coat of Arms into the design.
After the meeting with the client and the site visit at the Carpenters’ Hall in London, our initial design idea was to incorporate some of the motifs used in the interior of the hall in the carving. We took our main inspiration from the Tree of Life Sculpture by Sir Charles Wheeler, which is displayed in the Banqueting Hall.
During further research we were also drawn towards the arts and craft style, especially designs by William Morris, depicting images of forestry.
Based on our research, we decided to use “forest” as the subject, drawing inspiration not only from the designs of William Morris but also from the versatile display of different timbers used throughout aspects of the architecture and interior decoration of the hall.
Following our research, we presented our design ideas, which were approved.
We started by creating a 1: 1 scale model of the two designs in clay.
We collected Oak leaves & Acorns and Pine needles & cones to study them closely in order to be able to stylise the main features for the carving.
We chose to depict Jays within the design. Jays are famous for their acorn feeding habits.
To carve the intricate motives in the design, we decided to use quarter-sawn English oak, which is a beautiful timber that takes great detail and is, therefore, a natural choice in carving.
During the carving process, the biggest concern is usually movement within the timber. This problem was taken into account, and the timber was carefully selected.
We worked with Matthew Whiteley, a fine furniture maker who joined two planks of quarter-sawn oak together, fixed the oak to backing boards to keep the panels flat and to avoid any movement during the carving process.
We carved the panels in high relief, adding depth to the carving by using undercut to create shadows. Carving the background was very time consuming, as it had to be flat to offset the carved elements and make them appear more fluent and three dimensional. We paid particular attention to the finishing details of the carving. For example, the birds on the first-floor panel have a subtle difference in the finish to the feathers – one representing male, and one female.
Another challenge of the design was that the carving would be displayed in an elevated position above the lift doors. Therefore, the carving would need to read well from below. This meant that throughout the carving process, we needed to hang the panels up on the wall to ensure that all details are correctly positioned.
To finish the carving, we decided to only use oil on the timber, in order to preserve the natural colour of the oak, whilst at the same time ensuring to protect the carving.
The process of designing and carving these panels was a challenging but extremely rewarding experience.