Introduction to Relief Carving

Mary May
July 18-22

Learn the traditional art of relief carving through a series of skill-building projects. Mary starts with the fundamentals—how to get your tools razor sharp, clamp wood, transfer designs onto wood, remove backgrounds, and make safe and efficient use of the v-chisel and curved gouges. Students carve floral decorations, classic shells, and linenfold designs in shallow relief, and Mary gives particular attention to drawing, designing, and carving various styles of traditional acanthus leaves. 

Participants learn to think through the entire carving process, from design to completion, including the visualization of overlapping elements, techniques for layering, and tricks to make a design appear much deeper than it actually is. By the end of the week, students are ready to continue carving on their own.

Mary May is a self-employed woodcarver in Charleston, SC with more than 20 years of professional experience in carving architectural ornament, custom furniture, and sculpture. She originally studied with master woodcarver Konstantinos Papadakis in Minneapolis, and later furthered her skills in England, Greece, and Malaysia. Mary has been a featured guest on the PBS series “The Woodwright’s Shop” and teaches at various locations throughout the US. She has an online video school and has several videos on YouTube. Her website is

Open to all.

Tuition: $750

May-hand-carvingCamelia Flower by Mary May, basswood, 5"x5", 2013May1Tudor Rose carving by Mary May, basswood (4 1/2"x4 1/2"), 2014