Carving NW Style Panels
with Steve Brown

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NW Coast Arts Level: Level I


This class is taught by Steve Brown one of the most respected carvers and carving teachers in the NW. In previous classes, he has taught carving in the context of mask making and steambent boxes. This course will focus on carving with traditional tools while exploring design and iconography in Northwest style ornamentation. 
Formline, the name given to the graphics elements of Northwest Coast Indian Art by Bill Holm, has a lot of subtleties and dialects by tribe, clans and even families. Steve will explain those nuances and help you better understand the differences. Steve was an early student of,  and is a long time friend of Bill Holm. Steve has spent the last two summers working on Bill's new traditional NW canoe.

Class Description

Using the traditional crooked or bent knife to carve your design is one of the greater challenges of this class. The scale and scope of this project will offer you plenty of chances to learn the successful use of the bent knife to create fine details and larger features.

  • Carving techniques - straightlines, curved lines, small details
  • Formline - understanding the the elements, how proportion varies between tribes
  • How the formline elements combine to create different creatures
  • Developing your own design
  • Understanding the mythology and  avoiding appropriation
  • Paints and painting - which paints and which colours to use

You will be working on yellow cedar panels.


At a minimum you will need to the following carving tools to participate in this class:

  • Traditional bent carving knives - small-radius knife and shallow curved knife
  • Classic straight carving knife

You can purchase these carving tools  from various vendors or you can to make the knives in the Bent Knife Making Class that immediately precedes this class.

Steve suggests these tools from the following vendors:

  • Kestrel Tools:  
    Crooked Knives - C-A and C-H
    Detailing straight knife
  • North Bay Forge:
    Crooked knives: Tip Bent Knife and Shallow Bent Knife
    Medium straight knife

If you do not have tools - we may have some loaner tools but please enquire before registration.

Carvers who already own tools are encouraged to bring their carving kit with them. The discussions and history of various tools are great fun.

You can make these tools, and some adzes, in Steve's NW Carving: Toolmaking and Techniques Class.



This is a class for the beginning carver. We do recommend taking Steve's NW Carving: Toolmaking and Techniques Class but it is not required.

Class Information and Registration

Class starts at 9:00am on the first day. This class takes place in Building 306 at Fort Worden.

Please read our What to Expect page for general information about the School.

Please also read our Registration Policy.

Class size: 10
Cost: $750
Materials Charge: $35

2014 Classes:

When you click on the Register link you will be able to register for the class or, if the class is full, sign up for the wait list.

May 26 - May 30, 2014 Carving NW Panels Register

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Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades Copyright © 2007-2014. All rights reserved.

200 Battery Way | Fort Worden | Port Townsend, WA 98368 | (360) 344-4455 | email

The Port Townsend School of Woodworking and Preservation Trades is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit. Any donations made to the School are tax-deductible to the extent provided by law.