Carving a Portait in Relief - DVD
with Ian Norbury

Published by Ian Norbury


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As reviewed in The Australian Woodworker Issue 148

It's unlikely that anyone even remotely interested in woodcarving has not heard of Ian Norbury. His superb work has been featured, not only in woodworking magazines all over the world, but also in the lifestyle and mainstream media.

But Ian Norbury's renown is not based upon his ability as a woodcarver alone. The eight books that he has written on the subject since 1983 have earned him equal respect as a teacher.

In the past few years, Ian has extended his instructional material and has now produced eight DVDs, each devoted to a specific project.

This 45 minute video, Carving a Portrait in Relief, provides an opportunity for the viewer to learn the techniques of face carving and at the same time produce a piece that may serve as a gift, a memento or even an heirloom.

The presentation begins with a photo of the subject, a young girl.

Ian describes how he starts by using the photo to produce a photocopy of the size necessary. Using this, he makes a rough carving of the face in a slab of modelling clay to allow him to establish the major levels of the relief carving.

This work is executed quickly using carving tools in much the same way as they might be used on wood but with the advantage that if too much is taken off, it can be easily re-attached.

A block of Limewood is then screwed to a backing of inexpensive timber and the photocopy lightly attached to it. The video shows how lines derived from the copy are drawn on the wood, after which the copy is removed and carving is begun.

From this point, each step of the carving is patiently explained, each tool is named and the method of using it shown in close-up so that it can be carefully followed.

(The brief notes included with the DVD contain a full list of the tools employed.)

Ian Norbury describes this carving as relatively easy and suggests that it might take approximately two days. The period is shortened to the length of the video simply by omitting repetitious cuts.

The finished carving shown in the presentation is typical of Norbury's work - meticulously carved and smoothly finished. It is also an excellent likeness of the girl in the original photograph.

Appearing to recognise that some viewers of the video might have misgivings about their ability to achieve similar success, Ian suggests ways in which a satisfactory likeness can be achieved even if the overall carving is not as accurate as it might be.

Duration: 45min

DVD - English - PAL/NTSC