I picked up my first carving chisel more than 4 years ago and have been dabbling ever since. I’m not good enough to make elaborately carved pieces, but I can knock out a ball & claw foot, add a little lamb’s tongue, make a simple egg & dart moulding, or carve some letters. They come out looking good and it takes me the better part of a Wagner’s Ring cycle to get it done. I like to think I understand the principles and the process of carving for furniture work, but I know my basics and technique can use a lot of fine tuning. So I’m taking a class this Spring to strengthen my foundation and I recently subscribed to Chris Pye’s Woodcarving Workshop, yet another outstanding online woodworking education site. I made brief mention of the member site in a Wood Talk Online episode last summer but never really followed up on it.
After spending several hours reviewing Chris’ lessons I am really excited by what he is doing over there. Chris Pye is a reknown woodcarver with decades of experience and a body of work that is astounding so there really is no doubt he knows his stuff. Expertise is one thing but being able to convey the message is an entirely different trait. It is obvious Chris has years of teaching experience too as his presentation style is spot on. The site is broken into categories of information and a logical progression of quick 2-5 minute, high quality videos covers each topic. There is no detail uncovered and the site navigation is excellent putting everything right at your fingertips. Once fundamentals are covered Chris has jumped into several multi-part project videos where the student can apply the basics.
The site is constantly being updated and at only $8 and change (site is in British pounds so US dollar cost isn’t exact) per month, it is an absolute steal for the quality of information. Chris is a true woodcarving artist so he covers all forms of carving from relief to in the round, sculptural work. I can’t see myself going that far, but I never thought I would cut mouldings by hand 5 years ago either. So while some of the projects aren’t what a furniture enthusiast would be interested in, this subscription site offers a lot of the fundamentals that I was lacking in learning from books and messing about on my own in the shop.
The one caveat I will offer is that Chris does skip over some basics that are better covered in his many woodcarving books and DVDs already on the market. He explains that he doesn’t want to conflict with some of the material he already published through other publishers so it could be said that this online subscription would best be accompanied by some of his books and DVDs to get the details on things like sharpening. Although upon the request of an existing member about sharpening a V tool, Chris produced a 10 part series on just that subject. The information you need is never far away and Chris is very approachable.
So here I am again, excited to see yet another online offering for woodworkers. You gotta love this growing trend. Seeing experts like Chris step into this is really, really exciting.
Chris has gotten permission from other publishers to include all of his previous DVDs on the site. So this membership just gets better with access to all the content from 3 or 4 90 minute DVDs on sharpening to letter carving. He is still working on some of the video conversion so what isn’t online yet, will be soon.Google+ Profile