Grabovetskiy School of Wood Carving Reviews
So Can You.
Have you ever wanted to watch a woodcarver create a masterpiece? Have you wanted to learn how he approaches and executes his work? Alexander Grabovetskiy has opened up his carving world to us, with friendly, welcoming dialogue and progressively improving filming that gives us the feel of looking over the master’s shoulder. Still trying to sharpen that V-tool correctly? Alex shows us his approach, and I’m happy to say it takes much of the mystery out of the process. If you are beyond the beginner’s stage and want to be challenged, or if you are ready to take that next step, Alex will lead you by example. In addition to carving his free-flowing, fluid artistry, he will be explaining and demonstrating furniture carving, and I can’t wait. Oh – and expect to suffer some serious tool envy.
Alexander Grabovetskiy, He as an Artist, as a Wood Carver has in his possession the Vision and Masterful Execution of a Lifetime of experience. As an Educator, Alex brings foresight and a wonderful sense of humor in addition to his Incredible Carving skills to the classroom… I am honored to receive his tutelage.!
I was fortunate to have been able to take Alexander Grabovetskiy’s weeklong class at the Marc Adams School of Woodworking titled “Carving with a Classical Flair” last week and it was not only very educational but also a lot of fun. As anyone who has seen his work can certainly appreciate, Alex is a truly gifted carver. However, he is also an excellent teacher who genuinely wants his students to learn. He repeatedly asked us, both as a group and also individually, if we were enjoying the class, if we were getting what we wanted out of it, if we understood what he was explaining, and so on. As a beginning woodcarver, I wasn’t as concerned about the end result “project” as I was in learning more about “technique”. We started out with a review/demonstration of the sharpening techniques used for the various carving tool shapes, which I think most of us found quite valuable. We carved a deep relief of a grouping of grapes, grape leaves and acanthus leaves, with heavy undercutting. The various techniques presented (for me, learning the four basic design principles and gaining the confidence to draw my own fluid designs were of particular value) were exactly what I had hoped for. However, I am also very pleased with the project we did, and I now have the knowledge and confidence to attempt similar carving on my own. I still need to add some refinements, complete the undercutting even more, clean it up, and put a finish it, but my wife is already very pleased with how well it turned out in only my second attempt at carving. Many of the students left with very nice pieces, including Tom, who had never carved anything before the class and was using his late father’s carving tools for the first time. I am a relatively new member of Alexander’s online school and I have watched all but two of the lessons thus far. There is a lot of value in watching someone carve, without the use of time lapse or heavy editing. As Alex says, it is a lot like being an apprentice, watching the master closely in order to learn the techniques involved. It helped me to see the pace of the carving, how the design is developed as things progress, etc. I am looking forward to the new lessons that he has announced will be coming shortly, but I am also very interested in seeing the final version of the Grinling Gibbons project, which is an enormous undertaking.
I joined Alex’s online carving school a couple of months ago, never having carved before, and I am thoroughly enjoying the experience. I have now completed the beginner’s course and struggle to wait to the end of each working day before I can continue with my lessons. Alex’s model of ‘apprentice watching a master’ works surprisingly well online. The camera angles are great, the courses are taken with every step explained, Alex chats away about carving history, his life, his thoughts and his opinions while he is carving, just as if he is chatting to an apprentice watching over his shoulder. He makes the odd mistake which is quite refreshing, but more importantly Alex shows how he corrects these mistakes and that is super valuable to a beginner like me. Last but not least, the fact that Alex takes the time to critique my work, give feedback by mail, and is always available – even welcoming phone calls! really just finishes the master/apprentice model off quite well, especially for the more complicated work where it’s important to have a real discussion. Thanks, Alex for starting your school and taking the time to share your craft with someone like me who could never normally have access to your talent and teaching. March 21.2018
Alexander’s school has been a great resource for me, even as a beginner in traditional carving. It is not just a collection of videos but is an interactive course in which he is very responsive through email. He faithfully posts new lessons and resources that are above and beyond what I had expected. By the way, after his demonstration of sharpening, I was even able to get the essential (but much dreaded) V-gouge sharpened to a razor fine edge. This was worth the cost for the whole month! Thanks, Alexander.
Alexander, I’m 59 and I’ve been carving for about 10 years and have dabbled in many areas: shallow relief, caricature, whimsical houses in cottonwood bark. But I fell in love with high relief floral carving while reading “The Lost Carving: A Journey to the Heart of Making” by David Esterly. While reading that book I found out that he was leading a class at Marc Adams Schools of Woodworking, took that class, completed my fist piece (of high relief floral carving) and was hooked. I knew of your work long before I knew of your on-line school. When I found the school last fall, I immediately came onboard and followed many of the projects, especially the Grinling Gibbons inspired piece but somewhere in one of your introductory videos you showed something akin to your Hashemi Flowers. I now see that the Hashemi Flowers are soon to become a real project. I’m there! Your videos are complete showing nearly every stroke, the “whats”, “whys” and “how-tos” are all explained, and the bit of personal history thrown in makes the viewer feel like they’re having a very personal conversation with you. By the way, I did follow your tool sharpening series and I can say for the first time ever I can get my tools not just sharp but almost “scary-sharp”. I personally believe that anyone who has been looking for high relief floral carving instruction will be well rewarded to follow along with you and your school. Thanks for putting yourself and your skills out there for others to learn and grow from.
This has been an excellent course for several reasons. Watching the instruction in real time might at first seem a little tedious, but instead is extremely helpful. It shows clearly the patience, time, and effort needed even by a master to complete a project. Watching the video then going to the bench to attempt to duplicate the moves, then watching again to catch more detail and begin to understand the mistakes, then going back to the wood to try again is surely the next best thing to having the master at your elbow and looking over your shoulder commenting. Watching carefully also assists in developing one’s own fluidity of progression and economy of motion. The sessions on mechanical shaping, sharpening, and honing aids are particularly helpful and complement hand sharpening instruction available elsewhere. They are practical applications of the principles of the solid geometry of edge tools detailed in Leonard Lee’s The Complete Guide to Sharpening and R. Bruce Hoadley’s Understanding Wood. Both volumes explain the importance of the primary outer, the inner, and the micro bevels on gouges and show why slicing cuts are smoother and easier than direct cutting motion. These course segments, however, deal mainly with changing the primary bevel on tools that already have a keen edge. I would like to see in addition a detailed demonstration of when to switch power grits in gradually diminishing the line of white of a dull or damaged tool. Although at present I feel more comfortable and confident with a gouge than with a knife, I am continuing to work on the knife skills presented in the beginning sessions. The demonstrations of various ways to handle to tools in addition to the standard two are also very useful. Perhaps the most valuable and distinguishing features of the course, however, are the fine esthetics of the etudes. What you get for your efforts is not just another clunky carving but an object of joy and beauty that inspires and encourages you to come up with your own designs. It’s clear that to be a good carver one must draw, draw, draw, erase, throw away, draw again before even picking up a gouge. Thanks again for putting together such a fine instructional program.
I have spent, not an inconsiderable amount of time looking for instructional resources, finally discovering Alexander Grabovetskiy. After spending modest amounts of resources and sampling elements of his school, I am confident that you can find no better teacher in the art of wood carving. He has an easy and sincere teaching style, which belies preternatural skill and a deep understanding of his craft. Additionally, Mr. Grabovetskiy is a tech savvy artist who brings to bear the full force of modern technology to an ancient craft. Under his tutelage, anyone may become more than competent if not a master of wood carving. If you are serious about learning this art, get to know Alexander Grabovetskiy. Regards to all, DBF
I just joined the course but right now as I work on oil rigs and work 28 days on and 28 days off, I can practice only in my off days, still happy when watching videos and learning basics. As I am a DIY hobbyist and want to be a carver. Very very impressed with the overall quality of your teaching I decided to buy 1-year membership even though I can practice only for 6 months in a year. I brought lots of gourd designing and wood-burning videos too. But for me, as I just browsed through the course vow top one difficult to get. I was planning to go somewhere and learn Carving, but now I have the top school courses in my reach. Thanks a lot. I want to make it count.
I joined the online school here not long after Alexander started it. There was not much content at the time since the online school was relatively new, but from Alexander’s credentials (2012 International Carver of the Year, for instance) and the body of work he had produced over the years as a master woodcarver (and still does) I knew this would be something special. And my expectations have been exceeded. Over the past year Alexander has added a significant amount of content (courses and lessons) that cover a wide variety of styles and forms. There is something for everyone, from beginners to very accomplished carvers; from small rosettes and cutting boards, to furniture carvings, to Grinling Gibbons style ornament. You will find courses that require only a few tools, or even just a single knife, if you do not have a larger selection of tools available to you. And that’s not all. Many of the courses include lessons on design and drawing which was a total surprise to me and invaluable for someone who doesn’t want to rely only on (and be limited by) whatever templates and patterns can be found (he provides drawings for download too). There is also content about creating stains from natural and common household resources, the old-world way. Not only is Alexander an extremely talented wood carver, he is a designer, an artist, a historian, a teacher, and a fairly accomplished technologist as well. Alexander does all the video recording and editing himself and it is very well done. Well worth the price of admission and far better than other online carving schools I’ve used in the past. Then as a bonus, I had the privilege recently of meeting and working with Alexander in person at a week-long workshop he teaches at Marc Adams School of Woodworking. As a class group, Alexander walked us through the design process, applying the laws and rules of proportion that all the great historical works of art are based on for determining focal points and flow that are pleasing to the eye. We developed a project together in the classroom that was suitable for the materials that were available and then carved it. The online experience is great for watching how the master does it, but the in-person experience allows the master to watch and interact directly with YOU, one-on-one, to provide feedback to further develop and refine your techniques and skills. Alexander is a wonderful teacher both online and in-person, and he makes it fun! It was a memorable experience and I hope to be able to do that again next year. Dan A Currie – Austin, TX (May 24, 2018)