Self Portrait Mask

The ultimate challenge for any woodcarver must be a portrait that captures the likeness and personality of its subject. I am a million miles from that level but thought that if I omitted difficult areas such as the eyes and ears I might be able to give it a go!

To that end I took a cast of my face and made a maquette. I would still need help so I took my idea to, master carver, Mike Painter. He gave me a funny look and pointed out that instead of a maquette I actually needed a series of black and white photos to work from and since I would have to rough out the eyes in order to establish other features, I might as well finish them off!

Roman emperor

Taking a cast of my face (please excuse the toga)

 A piece of lime was sourced and I could begin .I chose to work from a corner rather than the face of the wood in order to avoid some nasty cracks in the timber.

in progress

So what I thought was going to be a relatively simple task turned into a very extended master class with Mike guiding my every move. Why in sixty years of shaving had I never looked at my face?!

I’m quite pleased with the result, thanks to Mike, although it’s quite disconcerting having a strange man staring at me from the mantelpiece and I wish I’d managed a smile for the camera before wielding a chisel!

John Francklow


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