Some of Zoe’s Woodcarvings

Zoe is well-known for her beautifully carved figures which display extraordinary detail, often combined with a sense of humour. Each of her exclusive pieces are single editions and are carved directly from one piece of timber using hand tools only, then finished with beeswax polish or Danish Oil if intended for outside.  Although Zoe sometimes uses recycled timber generally she carves native hardwoods often homegrown or sourced locally and seasoned for several years.

About my woodcarvings

Some of my carvings are large – this snail is about 30ins long and is made from the crotch of a walnut tree that blew down in a gale some years ago in Cocklake, near Wedmore, Somerset. The shell is smooth, the base textured.

Large carved snail in walnut wood by Zoe Gertner
Large carved snail in walnut

If you should ever go to Morwenstow in north Devon which is famed for the eccentric Reverend Hawker devising Harvest Festivals, do call in at the tearoom and there you will find the large broody hen which I carved in Beech.

Large carved broody hen for Morwenstow tearoom
Large carved broody hen for Morwenstow tearoom

Several of my carvings are much smaller – carved from one piece of Box wood this little trug is about an inch long and contains a garden hand fork, trowel and a bunch of onions. Box wood has a very close tight grain, it grows very slowly and you can carve tiny fine details with it. 

Boxwood carving of trug with hand fork, trowel and onions by Zoe Gertner
Carved trug with fork, trowel and onions carved in Boxwood. It's about 3cm long and made from one piece

Out for a walk one morning I saw the three cats dozing in the sun on the doormat outside a cottage. The coir doormat is about  1.5in x 1in and has a rope edging around it. The peas in their pod were carved from the curved end of her late father’s walking stick given to me by a neighbour.

Boxwood carving of cats on doormat in box wood and peapod in cherry wood
Three cats on the doormat carved in boxwood and a peapod made from a cherry wood walking stick
The Wood and Tools I Use for my carvings
Small pieces of box wood for tiny carvings
These are some pieces of box wood which I use for my small woodcarvings

These are some of the pieces of boxwood which I use for my small carvings and for the tiny detailed carving I work with the tiny fine tools shown here. For my large carvings I use these bigger tools together with a mallet.

Small gouges and chisels for woodcarving
Some of my small gouges and chisels which I use for my tiny woodcarvings
Large heavy gouges for larger woodcarvings
When making large woodcarvings I use a mallet with these big carving gouges
Church Carvings
inside st Mary's Church, Wedmore, Somerset
Inside St Mary's Church, Wedmore, Somerset. It's an imposing church on the road leading to Blackford, set high up opposite to Wedmore's former Post Office

I was delighted to be asked to carve some bench ends in St Mary’s Church Wedmore  when I lived in Somerset. They were removed one at a time and brought to me to work on, then re-installed in the Church when I had finished the carving. They are old oak wood about 2ins thick and  took me about 6 weeks to carve each one. They depict some of the agricultural industries in the locality.

Carved bench end showing man milking cow by Zoe Gertner
This is the first benchend I carved, it is fairly shallow as I was rather nervous to start with. It turned out that the occupant of the pew was a Dairy Farmer, which I had not known before I started the carving
Bench end with sheep sheltering under oak tree carved by Zoe Gertner
On my way to work one morning I spotted a flock of sheep sheltering beneath an oak tree, and my carving became deeper as I gained more confidence. By coincidence, the occupants of this pew turned out to be sheep farmers.
Cider apples carved on bench end by Zoe Gertner
Somerset is well known for its cider apple orchards and there are several cider makers near Wedmore and its surrounding villages
Strawberries carved on bench end in St Marys Church Wedmore by Zoe Gertner
In the past the Cheddar Valley was very well known for growing strawberries which were sent up to London on the 'Strawberry Railway Line' passing through Draycott and on to Wells
Harvest Festival vegetables carved on bench end by Zoe Gertner
Harvest Festival. Traditionally, each year Wedmore holds a 'Harvest Home' celebration in the village at the end of the summer
Inspiration
Woodcarving of lady resting on sofa in yew wood
This is Jill on Sunday afternoon, relaxing on the sofa and tucking into a box of Dairy Milk chocs. She's kicked off her shoes and has a paperback and a cuppa tea to hand. Carved in Yew wood and about 18ins long by 9ins wide

Occasionally I am asked where I get my ideas for my  wood carvings. Mostly, they come from observing people around me, from chance glimpses of people and their everyday activities, or the natural world of plants and animals. My carvings are not assembled, I always make them from one solid piece of timber.

wooden turned bowl with fish carved in it by Zoe Gertner
I acquired some turned fruitwood bowls which had warped into interesting shapes from a lady whose late husband had made them some years ago and carved this fish as a thank you and in memory of her husband who was a keen fisherman
relief carving of avocets wading in water by Zoe Gertner
After spending a very enjoyable morning last March watching flocks of avocets searching for food on the mudbanks of the River Exe estuary I carved this group wading through shallow water on a piece of waney edged Acacia wood
Zoe m carved this mermaid in oak wood
Lolling on the rocks my mermaid 'surfs the net' with her new 4G mobile, oblivious to the marine life around her. Carved from a discarded oak gatepost she is about 22ins long x 8ins x 8ins. Around the back of the rocks is a scallop shell and a shoal of fish
Woodcarving by Zoe Gertner of Dartmoor hares in elm
Carved in an Elm offcut from a coffee table, the three hares running in a circle symbolises the former Tin Mining industry of Dartmoor, the three hares are to be found carved in several churches on Dartmoor. If you look closely you can see they share three ears yet correctly, each hare has its own pair of ears
Zoe's carving of a stout lady scrubbing floor with bucket of suds, scrubbing brush and cloth in yew wood
My original 'Mrs Daley' was carved some years ago and she now has a lovely shiny polished rear end as she scrubs the floor with a brush, bucket of suds and a cloth. Carved from one piece of Yew wood, she is a project included in Zoe's book

I hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of some of my woodcarvings, and I hope to show more in the future. Although I enjoy creating my own woodcarvings I also find great pleasure in teaching woodcarving and introducing people to an absorbing activity which may well last for many years ahead.