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Talk To Me About What The Carving Path Forum Means To You

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As a carver without a lot of contact with other carvers, The Carving path to me means the opportunity to see what amazing work others are doing in their chosen material(s).

It is always a continuing source of inspiration.

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I would like to add to what Baz said so well. I have discovered so many different styles that I did not know existed. I have learned things have helped me with my gem carvings. I learned things that are not relevent to my work, but I like knowing.

In short, the inspiration and the chance to learn.


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agreeing with ever thing said already as well as for some one who is self taught and well not very good yet all the good feed back and advice is the best I learn every time I came here and hope the site keeps going for many years I dose not mater if our like me or a seasoned pro like some here it for every one its one thing that has at time helped e keep going when other tell me I stinkat carvig weather it be bone or wood finding peope who are will to take or even answer the basic questions and not teat me like a dummy is great .

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The Carving Path is the place that all carvers who work alone in their studio, shop, garage, basement, or where ever you work, by yourself ,,,, and with many others who do the same. We can come here and visit with many. We can see new ideas, get some inspiration. Learn something new,,, or old. Share what we know ,,, what we feel ,,ask ? To find out about things that got you curiosity up and wondering.

But mostly the friendship we can find here and to share with them our passion for carving,, that only someone ,,who carves knows. It makes no difference on what you carve,, how you carve,,, what kinda of material you use,,, what tools you use... We share that common bond,,, every time we go in our private place to do what we do with all of the other carvers in the world.

I live in a small town south Mississippi on the Gulf Of Mexico... They are very few carvers,wood carvers or wood artist near me..

The ones that are ,,, are just like the rest of us working in our studio,, shop,, by ourselves ,,, at the same time others are working...

For me time to go into my closet studio. A new carving is calling...

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Thank you Baz, Ken, Tony and Ed. It matters a lot to me to read what you have written in your messages.


When I posted this topic, I was facing the elephant in my living room, or in other words, I was sorely aware of a growing and obvious situation that I have been allowing to coast along for a very long time: the often and long periods of silence on the forum, and the very little interaction between forum members. There was a close call last weekend with the forum admin stuff, which took me away from the studio for days while I figured out what to do to fix the problems. I also took that time to communicate with former admin about this elephant in the room, and came away from those conversations knowing that I need to take some time before making a very final decision. I do not know quite how to express everything that is on my mind, and I don't believe that I will write it all to you.


To keep the forum available for the members you all need to: make it worth my while to continue paying the bills, and doing the behind the scenes admin things that do take a little time every day, and a lot of time when software needs updating or when the system goes down (both produce a lot of anxiety for this tech-limited carver).


This place has so much collected information that members have contributed. It serves as an educational resource for all who take the time to read, SEARCH, and read some more.


I find it nearly impossible to decide to shut off the lights, to close the forum in other words, to remove the archived information from the web. But, at some point I may not be able to do my job as admin, or I may reach a point where taking time away from my life's work for maintaining a silent forum forces me to make the difficult decision.


So, I posted this topic with mixed emotions, thinking that this might be either an opportunity for members to describe what this meeting place and resource means to each person, or it could be the beginning of a collection of epitaphs.


I am looking for more from all of you. More contributions in this topic. And more life and participation with the seeking and giving of help as is the intention of this forum.



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Hi Janel,


As a fairly recent CP member, I like the exceptional skills and knowledge of many of the members. I recall reading in the web site bio that it was intended to a forum for critical discussion with a fairly narrow carving focus, and that it is more so than any other. I think that also impacts the number of posts, as activity is much lower now than other forums.


From your post it is not clear to me what your objective of the question is? Is it about how to increase activity or something else?


Lastly, the life of an admin is often a lonely and under appreciated one, keep up the great work.



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Hi Janel,


I understand your situation, when I first register to the forum, it was for me the possibility to access a hughe database of knowledge and to have some feedback from other carvers.

As time as passed, it seems to me that the forum became quite a silent room where more and more "john smith" were gathering. Feedback seems to have almost completely gone, but knowledge is there and it is quite rare that a technical question stays without answer.

I do remember that you tried to make this forum more convivial (like asking to newly register member to, at least, put a picture for their avatar...)

I have to say that it's not one week without me cheking the forum, but it is quite often that I don't participate no more, and not because I don't want to but because I feel that no one else is around and that, in the end, is useless.

I imagine that as admin, you put a lot of work and a lot of yourself into this forum.

The only thing, I would ask you, is that if you take the decision to put an end to the forum (which I could understand, time beeing a limited ressource), please let us know few days before that some of us can save our inbox message or any other data.


Thank's for your time and work.

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Hi David and Christophe,


David, thank you for your encouragements. The plea is in the last two sentences from the statement above: "I am looking for more from all of you. More contributions in this topic. And more life and participation with the seeking and giving of help as is the intention of this forum."


So, yes, increasing forum activity with: the asking of questions or giving of answers; the presentation of how you do what you do, and why you do it that way; describing what motivates you to carve, whether for pleasure, or learning, or income; presenting what you have to offer to others from your own skill sets; revealing if you have been mentored by someone or do you mentor someone else; revealing where your inspirations come from and how do you interpret them in your carving; do materials inspire you and what are they; tool talk, how to make, how to use; and so much more.


You also wrote: "...a forum for critical discussion with a fairly narrow carving focus, and that it is more so than any other. I think that also impacts the number of posts, as activity is much lower now than other forums."


The narrow focus is only restricted to small scale work, of any material or approach. At the beginning of the forum in 2005, there was no other forum of this concept. The carvers who converged on the newly created International Netsuke Society's forum were gathering momentum and doing so on a forum intended for the use by collectors of netsuke. Three of us recognized a need for the carvers to have their own forum with the hopes of supporting the need to ask questions and give help to others, wherever and what ever our strengths and weaknesses were, regardless of the medium we chose to work in.


That the scope of current members is more narrowly focused is a result of who chooses to participate on the forum. To broaden it, the diversity must come from the membership. I cannot do that alone. The forum survived in strength until a major upset between members caused an exodus of a number of members. My hope has been since then that a differently diverse group would gather, and for the forum to become again a resource for those with questions and others with experience to meet and interact.



Christophe, I appreciate what you have said and described. The feeling of the forum becoming "useless" to try to participate in is one very large motivation for my presenting "the elephant in the room" to anyone who is reading this discussion. The forum deserves a chance to grow towards becoming a more useful and helpful place in the months and years ahead. I cannot do that alone and I do not intend for this forum to become a personal blog only about my work. Interaction, give and take, questions and answers, thoughtful discussions apart from carving in The Way, what helps us to grow and to learn, all are what made and can make again this forum into a great place for the members and non-members who visit in large numbers without registering.


Yes, I do put time of varying amounts into the administration of the forum, daily. I have experienced a vary wide range of rewards and consequences in the nine years as admin. I have read all 25,685 posts to date, from the roughly 2,000 members. I don't remember all of what I have read, nor to I remember each of the members anymore. I do know that over the many years of this forum that it has mattered greatly to the growth of many who have chosen carving in a smaller scale as their passion. Their quest for knowledge has been supported by the good will and sharing amongst the members here.


I do not want to shut down the forum. Except for a sudden and decisive event in my life, I intend to keep on as admin of the forum, but if the membership does not take part in breathing life into the current and future well being of the forum, I will need to take that into consideration at some point in the future. If a decision is eventually made to close the forum, I hope to be able to give some warning over a period of time for you all to anticipate the closure.


Providing a place for people from around the globe to meet with their needs and knowledge in the realm of carving in a small scale is, and has been, meaningful and important to me. Being at this point in time, I see "the elephant in the room" and am talking about it. The next step is to encourage members to choose to participate more and to develop a thoughtful community amongst themselves. I am ready for the "elephant" to go away and to not return, but if it remains, I am aware of what then needs to happen.

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i a not post every day or every week but I am on the site every day reading and learning from this site I post when I have a question or have some thing helpful to say I have learnt so much and found this site so easy to use I would be a great shame to lose this site as both a place to show off our work or learn from my dad said don't say any thing unless its worth while and well I don't always have any thing to say here that's why I don't post but I really love this site and its a great teaching tool

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I came here years ago looking for information. Now I like to use this place for inspiration and also to surround myself with carving and art related discussions, I find surrounding myself with it keeps things moving.


Recently I tried a few threads to get people to participate, most failed. I was hoping for more discussion on things but have since realised that this is probably not going to happen. I start writing topics all the time but get bored when I consider that noone will reply so I stop.


Now I mostly stop by to check out new work but I have also found lots more artists and groups on facebook which have a greater turn over then here.



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Hi Lachlan,


Thank you for your post, and for your attempts to get discussions going. I have watched the non-activity with sadness as well. I have wondered how the social media sites may have risen as a place to meet. The broad friends group concept and instant updates has an appeal of its own, but what it does not have is the accessible archives of Q&A that serve as a learning resource found on The Carving Path forum.


My beginning to talk about "the elephant in the room" openly, rather than watching what is and is not happening, is a step towards either a building of participation here again, or will lead towards an acknowledgement that the forum will eventually go away. It is really hard for me to think about that possibility of removing all of the acquired knowledge from the global community who still visits without participating.


The forum membership is broadly talented, with a wide range of experience and motivation for carving in a smaller scale. I very much hope that somehow a nucleus of members will together foster a community here that will be both thoughtful and responsive and will contribute to a longer life for The Carving Path forum.


As I am able to, I will be more present here. The big question is, will it help others (to be more present here) to learn by example?

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Maybe the website could be stimulated a little by posting links to it on some of the social media group sites, Im sure they wont mind. There are many benefits to a forum rather than a facebook group. Though I get much quicker replies on facebook then I do here and the quality of reply is just as good.


Also in terms of asking questions, corresponding and sharing work facebook offers unrivalled publicity for anyone running a business!


Maybe you could add some new features to the forum, login with facebook so users dont have to register, other forums have like buttons in threads which work quite well.


Maybe a for sale section where people can buy and sell gear, materials and equipment? I for one have been chasing mammoth tusk for months with no luck, sure the for sale forum might fill up with ads for jade or mammoth but that brings the materials people need to the people (there is always the risk of fraud but many ways to overcome this!)


For me as a carver the threads I love the most are the ones that show work being conducted from start to finish.

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Oh yeah the wildly popular steve lindsay engraving forums has beginner how to's, engraving competitions for all levels with sponsored prizes and engrave-along type scenarios.


I know it sounds a bit commercial but you could cover your cost for the website through optional paid memberships and paid advertising forum for vendors.

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Hi Lachlan,


Thank you for your messages. I have been considering your ideas.


My experience with social media is very limited, so I don't really know how they would integrate with the forum, or vice versa. Yes, I would imagine that Facebook yields quicker responses, and the communications helpful at the moment to the readers. The forum is slow speed, and stands as a resource to return to for all who read the posts regularly and later who search its archives.


Could you email me, or PM me, with a link or two to forums that integrate with social media sites? I would like to see examples.


I am really weak in the techy IT department. Upgrading forum software gets avoided because it requires lots of my time to prepare for and to sort through the changes. It should be no big deal for the technically able persons. I am just not one of them when faced with things beyond what I already know.


The Doing Business area of the forum could serve as a place to announce materials wants or needs. It has been defined differently, but has been the likely place for announcements of materials or tool availability already. The main requirement for posting is to do business privately between interested parties.


Thank you for mentioning money. I have considered asking for donations, but was waiting to see how the forum progresses after my beginning to discuss "the elephant in the room". I have no idea if anyone is at all interested in contributing a little bit now and then towards the costs of keeping the lights on. I know of another forum that does that. If there is interest, I would set up a PayPal account that could accommodate international currency transactions.


Now, on with the day!



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Hi Janel I tried to PM you but your box is full.


Which forum software do you use? Is it completely up to date now? Most main softwares have social media integration in them now as options.


Also dont be so quick to discount a paid sellers forum area (not so much talking about art but supplies), you have a lot of potential customers here and the positives could work both ways. People like Foredom get to advertise in a paid section, and they offers small TCP discounts to members. Id also imagine other companies would be interested.


Putting a little donate button linked to a paypal account would be easy to do and people would respond. In other forums people who donate often get a unique member status- paying member or something better.


Lastly some publicity could help the site, Id be happy to post a link to the forums on a some of the facebook groups I belong to, if others did the same it would quickly get it around.

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Hi Lachlan,


Thank you for reminding me to clear out my PM box. It should be ready to receive messages again.


The forum software has the capability of integrating social media sites. I chose to not add that functionality to TCP for various reasons. Send me links to my email that illustrates the integrated forum/social media situation, as well as paid advertisement sections. I should at least learn about it before saying no, or yes.


Hmmm, links to forum topics that might fit a discussion going on elsewhere might be a good thing.


Lets talk via my email. I have more questions than I care to present on the forum. Thank you!

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I haven't posted in quite awhile and do not visit as much as I used to. Part of this is because the last year or so has been filled with to much drama and trauma in my personal life and the other is the changes that have taken place with the forum.


This may step on toes but here is what I have observed and my opinion.


The Natasha/Ford debacle really slammed this forum. There was a large group that posted regularly and a small but vocal core group that was heavily involved. The fall out from that affair caused some members to be invited to leave, others left on their own and some became disenchanted with the openess of the forum. Healthy debate brings vitality and life to a forum, unfortunately that affair left the lines unclear what was acceptable and what the repercussions would be for crossing the line. Oh I know there was some kind of history with some of the members then but from the outside appearances it was very unclear what happened and some of it appeared very unjust. A great many active participants disappeared after that and no one has taken their place. There has to be more tolerance for heated debate and if it goes to far the thread gets locked and the discussion shut down. If it goes into PM mode then a little transparency solves that issue. I think the forum has always been good at self censoring or public reprimands and for the most part discipline should be left in that arena.


There has been a great influx of new members however not many of them are very vocal and dare I say some what nervous or insecure about their work. Not many do wood carving and if they do their work is not posted. Although I do appreciate the bone work and jewelry related pieces there is not much that I can add about techniques etc, as it is out of my field. For that matter most of what is posted is out of my field or has been covered many times which brings me to my next point.


When someone asks a question about a technique or whatever I do not think a referral to a search helps much. It is like someone asking you a question and you tell them to go to the library. A short response or discussion with a referral that for a more indepth view go to the search function and look for ........whatever.


Finally as much I hate to say it....people need to post their work and be proud of it and those of us who are professional should be FAR LESS judgemental about it. If there is something to be said the consideration should be given. The last time I posted was in reference to just such a circumstance. People should be far more tolerant than they are and those who post should stand up for what they post. After all....am I ever going to meet any of you, does it really matter what you think, are you really that good and who made you king? Part of the reason for real names and picture avatars was to make this a more personable place and more like a real conversation in the real world....would some of you really say some of the things you say in a public discussion in a room of 20 other crafts people...I doubt it. This fear and insecurity keeps people from commenting and from posting pictures. For that matter insecurity kills creativity, discussion, progress and exploration so anything that can kill the insecurity is a good thing.


I have been in transition with my work for the past two years redefining and reshaping my business as well. I do have some work that I will post in the coming week or so. Pictures always bring activity so maybe I can do my part to help.


Mark Strom


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You have a remarkable website.


For me, who has no-one to talk to directly about carving, it provides:



encouragement and guidance

inspiration and fascination


As a beginner, I do not feel comfortable opining on other people's work - however, I look forward to every new photograph that is posted.


Your's is a fabulous site.


Keep up the great work.


Thank you.


Kind regards


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About the Natasha-Ford debacle ....to be perfectly honnest, it was Natasha/Clive and the decision that followed this discussion....

But let's not look at the past.

I register on this forum shortly after this story and it was really good for a while.

And as much as I agree with Mark when he says that:

people need to post their work and be proud of it and those of us who are professional should be FAR LESS judgemental about it

The one of the things that made me go into passive participation on this forum, at least as much as the lack of activity, is the fact that, like many other forums, the feedback is always the same "nice, good work, beautiful.....etc etc" and it is true that there is a lot of talented people posting here and there's not much to say

But, and I might sound harsh, how many times did I witness some work, for sure a good attempt, which were clearly lacking something whether finishing, technique or composition, but were praised the same as some really amazing work.

And I do know how harsh it can be to have people telling you how much your piece is sh.t, but there is a reason why we post, and I believe this reason is progression. And I don't think that praising is the right path.

So, I believe that a feedback should be true and polite and the poster should be able to take it no matter how harsh it feels at first.

But usually, and I believe it is true with every forum, there is a core of people which tend to be nice with each others and there is the others which get a feedback if the work is outstanding or no feedback if the work is so-so. But then, what's a forum purpose....

One last thing that Mark said:

After all....am I ever going to meet any of you, does it really matter what you think, are you really that good and who made you king?

To some extent I understand it but the reason I post, or at least was posting, is to have a feedback from people who do share an interest in creative craft. When I post a work, I don't really care what people thnk about me, I would like to have another insight on some of my work 'cos my vision is biased by the amount of time I worked on it. For sure, some harsh comment would probably not be made if we were to sit in front of each other, but I do believe that if we respect each other, a lot could be said to try to improve one's work....


Sorry for the long post and english not being my first language, I do apology if the syntaxe is a bit heavy.

BTW, trying to make an effort when writing some thread could also help keeping some post active, imo.


And now I'm off



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For me this great place is where I can 'talk' to other carvers in an otherwise solitary occupation. I also do enjoy seeing what you all are doing in the carving field . Such an amazing talented bunch . I am slowly getting more used to this machine and posting pictures is still a chalange foe me. I should have been born in 1852 .





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  • 2 months later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Hey Janel, well what does this mean to me? I really don't know yet, like many good things opportunities come along and really how do we evaluate them. I can say though that so far I have been able to see and share with some amazing people from all over the world. So how can I put a value where none can be place, I guess what this forum is to me then would be INVALUABLE! It holds many great events and opportunities for carvers of all levels to share learn and be inspired by those that have what we aspire to. That in itself is beyond value, to be inspired is to have an epiphany on some level, the awakening of consciousness. The talents that the members are blessed with is beyond words. Thank you. You are Amazing!!

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Hi All,


I have only recently joined this forum but have to say I am very much enjoying the opportunity to learn about a new element within a much wider craft - my main area for carving is in the medium and large world (lovespoons to figure-heads) but this forum represents an amazing space to learn so much about carving, it would be a tragedy if it were to vanish.



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  • 2 weeks later...

hello Janel


My girlfriend and I are very new to this forum and carving. I don't find it very intimidating to post our work, even if there are so many talented and professional carvers around . I think it's a great opportunity to have your work considered, in any case in a critical way, good or bad. And this is how you progress. We see and know we don't play in the same sandbox, still it's great to see what is possible to do, and it's motivating for new work.

The psychology of a forum as a whole is something very specific, and very complex especially if it has been going on for quite a while. It has a memory, an history that you cannot see as a new member . I can understand that someone who has 20 years of carving doesn't want to answer to somebody that just started. If you got a lot of new members asking a lot of question you already answered a long time before, this is a little bit boring . I know we asked :) (and still were lucky to get some answers). Also, I can understand , even if I regret it, than an older members might loose a little bit of his interest at some point, or not be as active as somebody who is new. And also, something important, even a few years ago, the internet wasn't quite as vast and people were not subjected to such a flow of different medias and sites, that kinda killed the will to post . Facebook for example killed a lot of forums I know.

I recently encountered the same problem with an electronic music forum I was involved in for almost 10 years . It had the same kind of problem for the last 3 years or so , the lack of activity, some beef between members that pushed away other members, etc ... even after we organized 5 festivals in various country around Europe, and the fact that we almost all knew each others in real. The "oldschoolers" almost all left. Thing is , people still come to the forum, to take a look at it, and use its ressources .


For us, finding this forum was finding the answers to so many questions we had about carving . No other place on the internet (and we searched believe me) offered us such a variety of topics about technique and made us discover so much great work . We felt like we were well welcomed. We even had the chance to meet one of your member, Alain, in real life, which was awesome.

We don't post that much on a day to day basis but be sure we look at it. And now that we've seen what was possible to do, it gave us a lot of idea for new work, and the will to create it. We also had the chance to discover a whole world that has no easy access when you have no previous connection with it, like we were. So I think even if the forum is not as active as it was, which is a pity, it is still the result of years of common work (for you as an admin , and for members too) that you should be proud of, because for us, it was a real treasure to discover.

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