Hello this is Nora Hall I have been carving wood since 1940, starting in Holland, where my father let me carve simple designs the moment he put tools in my hands.
I was 18 and it was the beginning of WWII. My formal education was interrupted when we moved to a somewhat safer village outside of Amsterdam. My dad had suddenly received a lot of carving orders, private commissions and furniture factory jobs. Hundreds of panels etc. went through our hands to be carved, mostly in oak. The preferable style was Gothic. The patterns were simple and complicated. While I was doing the less involved designs at first, I learned how to handle the tools while producing at the same time. It was fun and rewarding. It also made the five year war a little bit easier because it got our attention away from reality. It was an ideal way for me to learn how to carve professionally plus contribute to the family financially. I was very lucky.
Carving has been my passion all those years since 1940. I have done an enourmous amount of projects, fireplace mantels etc. in this decorative style and have worked with designers and architects in Holland and later in the US, where I immigrated to in 1956.
While working with my father and other carvers, I learned the old method from way back, the way the masters had worked over the centuries. It was professional, efficient, and fast. Every cut was controlled, no guesses, no break outs, and wood splitting with stop or stab cuts. We had to avoid gluing for repairs. It was too time consuming, especially in the old days when you had to melt the glue on a stove in double boilers.
It is this controlled method of carving, by mastering the tools completely, that I teach in my DVDs and classes. With these basics as a foundation, the carving becomes more pleasant and makes it all easier to tackle (or approach) any complicated design.