On to San Candido

20 January, 2019 – 12:44 pm

We were given a day off on Sat 12th and a ski-lift pass to go up into the mountains in San Vigilio. What an opportunity to be able go up higher into the mountains. I’m not a skier and decided to stay at the mountain cafe at 1805m. I sat and did some sketching and watched the world go by.
Ed, my partner, Ollie, my team captain and Florian one of the German team members carried on up to the highest part. My other team mate Tom had gone sledging with the rest of the German team. 
Sadly we still needed to pack so we decided to go back to our appartment. The village of San Vigilio is so beautiful, with the timber houses, ornately carved balconies and frescoes. The barn we passed on the way back, just down from where we were staying had some beautiful graffiti and a fresco on the bay window. This building was about 300yrs old. This photo of me is from our balcony.

On the Sunday we were driven through the mountains on twisty windy roads, I’m pretty sure the taxi driver thought he was a racing driver. The views were incredible and although I took plenty of photos the windows were covered in salty spots and my photos weren’t that clear. The roads were lined with pine trees and snow covered houses. There were a number on timber yards with rows and rows of cut pine. The rivers were low with large rocks in the river beds-I’m sure during the thaw they run rapid and full.

As we descended into San Candido, two beautiful towers rose up out of the town square, one a 12/13th century Romanesque Church, The Colegiate of San Candido and the other San Michele parish church-once a Romanesque style but restored to the Baroque style. This was where we got dropped off and took a short walk to the Sports Hotel-our home for the rest of our stay. We were welcomed and thoroughly looked after in this amazing hotel. The food was magnificent, breakfast of ham, boiled eggs and fresh bread, lunch of soup and pasta and dinner, salad followed by soup followed by fish followed by desert. We did not go hungry and there was an opportunity to swim after our busy day of carving and before dinner.

We were given ski passes once more but I wanted to take the opportunity to explore the Churchyard and town a little. We had arrived on Sunday so naturally everything was closed. 
The Collegiate Church was beautiful and it had some beautiful carvings and frescoes on the walls around the Graveyard. Many memorials were sculpted in metal but there were some marble and sandstone carvings.

Before dinner we were invited down to the square to meet the rest of the teams, have some mulled wine and draw lots for our blocks. It was really snowing hard and by morning there was 4 inches on the ground.

After dinner on Sunday evening, we thrashed out our design making sure we had scale drawings of all sides so that when it came to carving we could mark up the snow. This was a particularly complicated design and we needed to give ourselves as much information as possible if we stood any chance of carving it in just 3 days.

Our blocks of snow were 3m cubed and thankfully a short walk from from our hotel. We were able to take a break in the nearest cafe to warm up and have a coffee during our carving days. This gave us a brief respite from the cold and extreme carving. On the first day, Monday it snowed most of the day, thankfully I had a change of clothes. Temp hovered around 0.

On Monday evening we were invited to the Dolomite Museum, owned and run by Mikhail Wachtler who had discovered many fossils and even a large deposit of gold. He gave us a private tour and then we had a Grappa tasting. 
Obviously we were tired after our first day of carving-arguably the hardest day as all the roughing out needs to be done. So after a jolly evening and in awe of the magnificent geology it was time for bed.

On Tuesday, after finishing my setting out and roughing out between Dumb and Blind and Dumb and Deaf, I started my stint in the middle of the 3 Wise Monkeys. My task was to carve the faces and chop down the middle. After Lunch Ollie jumped up and used an amazing implement to cut snow away quickly. Pretty soon we were forming the Chimpanzee’s bodies and undercutting to allow the snow to be moved out of the middle more efficiently. 

At the end of day 2 there was a hole under the arms of Blind and Deaf that I would be able to climb through. After having spent all day Tuesday in the middle and Weds morning carving and chopping, hacking and shaping the monkeys faces and hands were really beginning to take shape. The temp hovered around -6.

After morning coffee of day 3, I started to work on the feet of Dumb, who was the monkey at the back, although I had made a sketch it needed a little bit of amending in reality to fit with the shapes of the monkeys legs and bodies. I created forced perspective to give the illusion of size. Temp hovered around -4

We managed to finish on schedule and at 6pm which gave us all time to relax before the prize giving ceremony.
This was held in our hotel which was even better as we didn’t need to get wrapped up to go out.
Once again the hotel did us proud with a delicious dinner and wine, it was great to socialise with all the teams. We were all given a participants certificate, (unfortunately mine got a bit scrunched up) and a pair of toastie warm felt slippers made locally.
The best was yet to come. My design for San Vigilio, ‘The Fate of the World’ was announced 3rd place, oh my goodness, how exciting, after all the hard work we had put in. There was only one certificate and Ollie was kind enough to give it to me as it had been my design, we were all awarded a soft toy as our prize also produced locally. Once all the winners had been announced they moved onto San Candido and joy of joys we had been awarded 3rd place in San Candido as well, this was Ollie’s design-inspired by the 3 wise monkeys. We were given a flask and cup set as our prize.

We had to come back to reality though as our train was leaving San Candido at 06.20 the following morning and we needed to pack.

Our journey home was so beautiful, we changed at Fortezza again, there was very little snow but as we crossed the border into Austria there was all the snow. Travelling back through the Alps until we finally arrived in Innsbruck for our flight home.

What an incredible experience, what an adventure. Exhausting and exhilarating, scary and exciting. It pushed me out of my comfort zone and yes I was terrified but that is no excuse for not trying and look we came 3rd…twice.

I am looking forward to submitting my application for next years competition.





Snow Carving in San Vigilio

12 January, 2019 – 8:13 pm

We flew into Innsbruck on Tuesday afternoon, the weather was overcast and snowy and the mountains looked incredible.

There had been heavy snowfall and we were lucky as the airport was shut the day before.

We took the train from Innsbruck to Brunico through the Alps, there was so much snow and beautiful cloud reaching mountain peaks. The sky was clearing and there was some blue sky and sunshine. When the wind blew the snow flurried off the mountain sides and there were columns of icicles hanging from every visible rock.

Once we reached the border between Austria and Italy the snow began to clear, there were lorries and cars, transporters loaded with new vehicles.
Unlike the UK there is no snow on the road and life carries on as normal but when there is this much snow and ice they are prepared for it.

We had to make a change at Fortezza for our train to Brunico, we were running late due to some checks that were carried out at the border and had a 30 minute wait for the next train, it was getting dark at this point and there was little or no snow. 
Travelling with the quantity of luggage we have is a tricky process, not only do we need enough warm clothing to protect us in sub-zero temperatures but also all of our tools for hacking and carving the snow. The chain with the bolts through for sawing the snow weighs 3kg on it’s own.

We were welcomed to the Hotel Majarei in San Vigilio Di Marebbe and shown our home for the week, a beautiful apartment with delicately painted doors, sturdy Austrian wooden furniture and ornately decorated balconies and most importantly comfy beds.

On Tuesday morning we were welcomed in the town for our pre-carving briefing and the block picking, we were no. 5 so right in the middle which was great, The snow was created artificially (but just water) as there had been no snowfall. It was great quality and shone blue. They are 10 metres cubed.
We had the Serbian team on one side and one of the Italian teams on the other.

Once we had drawn the design on the surface, the first job was to saw the 4 corners off, like chopping a tree we hacked in underneath so once we were through it would fall off. The next job was to cut the corners off the corners to create the sphere. More difficult that it sounds on this scale. The hand developed gradually along with the curve of the sphere.

The tools we use are a mixture of gardening implements, sharp metal chisel like tools and sanding blocks made out of old cheese graters.

Here are the final finishing photos from our carving and some of the other teams.

The view from the road of all the carvings and the view from our apartment balconies

We are off to San Candido next to carve our next snow sculpture, loosely inspired by the 3 wise monkeys. We have 3 more days and the winners will be announced on Wednesday evening.

If you would like to see more up to the minute photos you can follow our progress on my facebook page. 


From the past to the future.

19 December, 2018 – 2:48 pm

The last stonemason’s festival that I took part in was in Ludlow in 2012. The subsequent 5 years would see me organise 3 more festivals and help raise money for The Llanthony Secunda Priory in Gloucester. They are open to the public now after alot of hard work by the trustees and also thanks to all the stonemasons who took part in my 3 festivals held here.

I am looking forward to taking part in some stonemason’s festivals next year but 2019 is going to start with a snowy adventure as I have been invited once again to take part in not one but two back to back snow carving competitions. There are three of us on team GB and we will start out in San Vigilio where we will carve my design, called “fate of the world”.

We will be provided with a 10ft cubed block of compacted snow and just 3 days.

We will then be transferred over to San Candido, where we will carve my team captain’s design based on the three wise monkeys.

More recently I have been working on a new carving from an old design, it was the carving that I designed for the Ludlow carving weekend but as with all events such as this we pour out heart and soul into our carvings and then they are sold to raise money for charity and we never see them again. I did actually bid on my carving as I genuinely wanted to keep her but luckily for St Lawrence’s Church I was outbid and she contributed £640 to the restoration fund.

This carving is half the size and carved from Lepine limestone, using this stone meant that I could carve more detail, as I wasn’t working to a clock I could also finish her as I had originally intended. This carving took me roughly 70hrs.

I put 2 pictures on because I couldn’t decide which one to use.

Happy Christmas everyone.


Latest Creations and sculptures for sale.

13 November, 2018 – 4:54 pm

I have been busy working on some new carvings and creations which are available for you to buy from my studio at Taurus Crafts or from the Crafters shop in Wotton-Under-Edge.

Here are some photos of what is available at the moment. I have almost completed this years commission list so I will be able to knuckle down and get some more new carvings carved before Christmas. I’m also hoping to get some more work done on my long term Bacchus carving. 

Here is a small selection of carved words in Forest of Dean sandstone with 23 3/4 carat gold leaf, these are suitable for outside. I have plenty more all different as shown in the wider images. Prices start from £38 (item not shown in these images)

These are a few carvings in a variety of sandstone, slate and limestone, I have lots more clocks available all different shapes and sizes, the one shown can be wall mounted but comes with a Cornish slate base if you wanted to have it free standing. prices vary but start at £15.

These photos show a wider angle of some of my creations available to buy from my studio. Prices start at £4 for the painted letters and for some of my more complicated carvings the prices go up to £3800+. 

I will be making some more pendants and earrings, I use Welsh slate, Freshwater pearls and Sterling Silver. My jewellery is made from scratch so they can be to your full specifications. I can make studs and clip-ons, I buy premade ear clips and bars. Pendants start at £20 and earrings start at £35.

I currently have a 5mth waiting list for commissions.


Second commission for Gloucestershire Constabulary

11 October, 2018 – 11:14 am

After my success with the police shields I created, I was asked to design a retirement gift for a senior officer.

The brief was to incorporate stone from 5 districts; Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire.

The design I came up with was a layered bowl. Unfortunately I hit a brick wall in terms of getting a piece of stone from each area and staying within budget. One quarry had a minimum charge of over a £100 + delivery and VAT.

I decided to use what I had in my workshop and the bowl from then on could only be 5 x 8 inches at it widest.

I was struggling with the Wiltshire stone and decided to make up a layer using the Jesmonite, which once formed and sanded I would cut holes and put flint in to represent a chalk layer. 

In order to keep the cost down I cut the stone on my tile cutter, hollowed it out as best as I could using my drill and then glued each layer together.

I was able to sand the outside and some of the inside with my angle grinder and my dremel, finally finishing off with my diamond sanding pads. I had previously tumbled the knapped flint pieces so that there weren’t any sharp edges. I cut the holes out with my dremel and glued them in.

I thoroughly enjoyed creating this unique bowl and hope that the recipient it is really chuffed.