Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Strange features in the woods...

If you go down to the woods today... you may see a few new carvings. Those of you familiar with the carved animals trail in the West Wood may have noticed that a few of the poor wooden creatures are looking a bit past their best. Add onto this some new works going on in our Nature Playscape, and a simple interest in giving it a shot, it's no surprise that the Ranger team have been turning our hands to chainsaw carving!

We started off on the basics - mushrooms. Both Phil and myself have done a few of these in the past, but we decided to do a few bigger ones with the aim of making a complete set for a picnic table with a difference. We used a fallen western hemlock from one of the plantations for these.


Having had so much fun, we decided to make a day of it in the recent half-term, carving publicly in the old sawmill site. It's great to be using what was the industrial home of forestry on Gibside for a modern twist on woodworking. Phil gave it a shot making a bear, whilst I set to work on an owl. Children were fascinated by the gradually appearing animal features, whilst a lot of parents seemed to want to come and have a go themselves!



Our new little Stihl, complete with carving bar, made carving the details a lot easier - and it was a lot less tiring to handle than the big forestry saws! The wood came from a fallen pine stem and some big chunks of Douglas fir, both from the estate and collected with hard work, straining muscles and not a small amount of difficulty one Saturday! For Phil and I, it's a really fulfilling and creative way to use chainsaws, and create something positive out of the sad felling of hazardous trees to make the estate a safer place to visit.

Whilst we've been busy with tree surveying and seasonal leaf clearing we've not had much chance to add to the collection, but the original sculptures are still up at the sawmill site. When tree safety works begin we'll probably get more wood from trees which need felling for safety reasons, and the Nature Playscape improvements will give us more animals to try. Keep an eye out on the estate for any more features that might pop up!