The West Australian Guild of Woodcarvers

Monday 9 July 2018

The West Australian Guild of Woodcarvers was formed by Doug Shaw and a few other woodcarvers 32 years ago. Initially it started as a single organisation; over time it has grown to include five separate carving groups in suburban Perth and one in the Southwest of the State. Western Australia itself is the largest state in Australia so servicing woodcarvers in the State is a major task, but the Guild is developing. The Guild functions to foster, promote and uphold high standards and interest in woodcarving.


Most of the carving groups meet weekly. The Guild itself meets with all members on one Saturday each month for a full day workshop. The monthly workshops are often theme-based and led by one of the members. Invited guests offer specialist training in techniques, materials, tools or finishing. Lunchtime barbecues break up the day and the remaining afternoon is used for continuing the workshop carving theme or working on personal projects.

Achieving goals

To improve the skills of its carvers the West Australian Guild of Woodcarvers invites national and international master carvers to Western Australia. The master classes usually occur over a week and are intensive workshops. Carvers invited include Peter Benson, Silvio Apponyi, Susan Wraight, Peg Ridgely, Don Powell, Ian Norbury and Fred Cogelow.

These workshops have improved our skills base and the club has had a lot of fun in the process; they are truly great teachers. The main means for promoting interest in woodcarving has been through the annual Perth Wood Show – held in August or September. Here the Guild exhibits members' carvings, judges its annual carving competition and demonstrates carving to the public. The major prize in the carving competition is the Doug Shaw Award – named after the Guild's founding President – won this past year by George Ferrara for the best overall carving.

Other competition categories are for open, intermediate and beginner carvers. They can be entered in relief, in-the-round or as miniatures. Efforts to recruit new carvers include invitations to a free beginner's workshop given at the Perth Wood Show, teaching beginning carving classes at Perth Trinity School for Seniors and community classes and demonstrations at various functions. A new website is in the making which will extend the Guild to the State at large.

A range of timbers

Woodcarving lends itself well to socialising. It is generally quiet, and, with coffee/tea and goodies at workshops, what better way to spend time with fellow carvers? It is enjoyable and results are often measured in the 'oohs and ahhs' of the works and techniques discussed.

Western Australian timbers are exotic and beautiful in colour and grain – they include banksias, acacias (Umbellularia californica), sandalwood (Santalum album), jarrah (Eucalyptus marginata) and 'sheoaks' (Allocasuarina). All are extremely dense so carvers really learn the value of sharp tools.

If you can fit Western Australia into your travel plans, then come and spend some time with fellow carvers here in Perth and try some of those Western Australian timbers. The club would enjoy entertaining you. Ask Peter Benson or Malcolm Dye; they have spent some time with the club. In any case, 'cheers' from your colleagues down-under!