The Green Man

The ‘Green Man’ looks down on The Primrose Garden in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. The Alternative Technology Centre was developing the Primrose Garden as a natural forest garden producing useful plants for craft activities at the centre, i.e. paper making, dyeing, and basket weaving. For more information, contact the Alternative Technology Centre on or by email on

The Alternative Technology Centre asked me to do something with a tree stump that was growing out of a wall. The shape said it could only be a face with a beard, and its setting in such an environmentally friendly garden demanded that it was a ‘Green Man’ carving. We decided we wanted a friendly, smiling ‘Green Man’ rather than one of those fierce carvings that have twigs sprouting from the mouth.

Those who know me recognise that there is an element of self-portraiture in this carving. The carving is twice life-size, and I needed a model as a base to scale up the measurements. I did not know of anyone but me who would be available when I needed them, who was willing to have measurements taken with steel dividers direct from the face, and that would be within my budget of zero pounds!

Almost all the work was done with one large, broad gouge with a mallet, but some of the fussy bits around the leaves required a smaller gouge. One of the problems with this piece of work was the height of the wood in the wall. I had to kneel in front of it for much of the time, and for the beard, I had to sit and almost lie down to get into the right position to carve.