I received a phone call from the land lady of a pub in Burnley and the first question she asked was " Do you know anything about football?'. I made a quick calculation that I had successfully avoided anything to do with football for 64 years and answered her question. She had therefore to explain who Sean dacha was and why he was so important to Burnley F C and Burnley. I was then asked if I could carve a portrait into a standing tree stump in the pub's garden area. The pub had originally be called The Princess Royal but had been changed to The Royal Dyche
Front view of Sean Dyche chosen by the landlady of the Royal Dyche pub Burnley
Side view of Sean Dyche
T he tree stump was 2m tall and as I cannot carve easily above my head height, I left 30cm above the the area to be carved. At this time we had not decided what to do with it. I had an idea of a crown to go with the pub's name - The ROYAL Dyche. The first two cuts are at right angles as this helps establish the levels of the various features.
Tree stump 2m tall and images I was using
The first chainsaw cuts to establish the basic planes of the face.
F rom here onwards, I was using the front and side views to get the portrait right. One element that surprised me was the depth of the space between the nose and eyes. This only shows on the photographs as a very dark shadow.
Nose and mouth established
Eyes, mouth and forehead established
The face has become more defined. I had to look at both side and front views. Nothing is taken back to the furthest depth at this stage to allow some wiggle room
A fter 4 hours, my concentration was beginning to slip, and it was time to give up before something disastrous and uncorrectable happened. The carving had all the right elements in about the right places but was not convincing as a portrait. I went home to sleep on the problem, and my imagination ran riot. I fancied all sorts of things were wrong.
One of the tricks of the trade is to not carve the back until you are sure of the front of a carving. If there is something wrong with the front, you can always move the whole carving back a cm, and recarve the front surface. I did not want to do that as I was being paid by the hour, and I could not really charge for correction of my mistakes. A Nightmare!!
Front view after 4 hours
Side view after 4 hours
On my return, the nightmares proved to be just that. I checked all the measurements and surface heights. I had to push the eye sockets back perhaps 5 mm, and fiddle with the mouth area. One of Sean Dyche's iconic features is his orange/ red beard. It is not a thick beard that I could have carved easily, but barely stubble. I tried various rasps until I found one that gave a reasonable surface texture
Front view I was working from for comparison
I have received photos from the landlady of the Royal Dyche pub, Burnley, of the carving with the beard painted and a plaque attached. I usually advise against painting, especially on such green wood, but the paint has only stuck to the bits of the beard that I had purposely roughed up, so it will not form a water proof barrier that will trap the sap and intake encourage the growth of fungi.