When I first encountered Martin Wenham’s work several years ago, it expanded my awareness of the wonderful possibilities that letter carving offers. Martin’s pieces are testaments to his attentive sensitivity to wood and language. Many of his works can be explored here. Better yet, start with this video in which Martin tells his story and discusses his approach to lettering. You also get a few peeks at his methods and see a lot of his finished pieces:
I’ve mentioned Martin on the blog before, and now because, just a few months ago, Martin’s book The Art of Letter Carving in Wood was published. I purchased mine from Blackwell’s here, and the price includes shipping to the USA. Here is a link to a print interview in which Martin discusses the book. And you can see a few more shots of the book, including the table of contents, at the Crowood Press site, here.
The book is a culmination of what Martin has learned since he began carving letters in 1967. He explains, in clear detail, the methods he uses, including the shape of his tool edges and the way he sharpens them. There are many possible ways to carve letters, or to carve, period. Martin’s approach has proven to be effective through his work and his methods are accessible and achievable even if one is just beginning to explore. Note that Martin uses no knives and the methods are most suitable for letters larger than, say, those on spoon handles and such.
Far more important than the carving method, Martin offers great insight into letter design, spacing, variations, and much more. The back cover gives you an idea of the topics covered as will the links provided above. Throughout the book, Martin illustrates his points with examples of his own wonderful work. Highly recommended.