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Westonbirt Arboreteum Festival of Wood
by Lesley Wyatt

The Festival of Wood is held at Westonbirt Arboreteum, Gloucestershire, England every year at the end of August. The weekend before sees the peace and tranquillity of the Arboreteum shattered by the roar of a dozen chainsaws. Each chainsaw is operated by a sculptor intent on producing a complete sculpture from a huge tree trunk by the end of the following Bank Holiday weekend. Most of the sculptors know what they will be carving from, but this year, to add even more excitement to the occasion, Mick Burns and Dave Johnson accepted the challenge of not knowing what timber they have been allocated, until the event started.

The wood for these carvings varies from year to year, but is taken from trees that have been felled because they are damaged, dangerous, diseased or dead. Because of the huge variety of trees in the Arboreteum, the carvers have many species to choose from - cherry, oak, beech, maple, giant redwood, pine and Douglas fir to name but a few.

On Bank Holiday Monday, these larger-than-life carvings were auctioned off to members of the public who were prepared to bid four figure sums to get the sculpture they wanted. Proceeds of the auction go to Tree Aid, a charity which works with communities in West Africa to help them achieve self-sufficiency through sustainable use of woodland. To see the carvings, click on the Gallery link below.

As well as the carving event there were many other things at the Festival. Nearly 100 stands with woodturning, timber, tools and equipment, hardwood furniture, wooden jewellery, and, of course, pyrography (there were 3 of us, all members of the UKPyros Internet Group), plus many more. There were demonstrations of Bonsai care from nursery stock to the finished tree, tool sharpening, basket making and wood turning, a Toymakers workshop, several carving classes and demonstrating rope making and knot tying.

Lesley Wyatt and Jeff, her husband of 34 years, live in Bedfordshire, England. She began carving many years ago, mainly doing animals. She had been "playing around with pyrography for some time" primarily using it to enhance her wood carvings, and then realised that it was possible use it to create pictures. Together with Jeff, who's hobby is knot-tying, their claim to fame is producing pyrographies of sailing ships with braided rope frames. Visit their photo galleries HERE and HERE


To visit the Festival of Wood Carving Gallery click HERE

To visit the Westonbirt Arboreteum web site click HERE

To visit the TreeAid web site click HERE