In the Workshop with Fred Zavadil

Modelling and Carving

by Fred Zavadil

Fred begins with a sketch, incorporating movement and asymmetry in his figures. From this he creates an armature, paying attention to proportion and alignment. Next he builds up the base using oil-based clay, than moves on to outer layers. Graceful detail of fabric and hair may be a signature of Fred’s work, built up with clay and sculpted into folds or curls. Fred will work the model until he is satisfied.

Using the clay model dimensions, Fred laminates a wood block, preferring to select individual wood pieces rather than risk “discovery” of flaws hidden in the centre of a log. His skill as a master wood carver is evident in his translation of the clay model to the more unforgiving medium of wood. His carvings combine sensitivity and delicacy with a realism of expression and movement. Female hair and draped fabric appear to waft in an unfelt breeze and almost beg to be touched.

Text and Photography

by Anne Shelton

Anne has photographed sites around the world for over 30 years. Beginning with rough journals accompanying those adventures, she has progressed to writing a dedication speech and article about the birth of a memorial to honour those lost in a WW2 air disaster. When not travelling, she has been carving a series of wood spirits in her garden.

Rarely has Anne had the opportunity to sit still long enough to observe a master create a finished model from a box of clay, let alone the opportunity to capture that magical process on camera. It has been a gift to be invited to document that journey, and to watch the model in the original drawing emerging finally from a square chunk of wood.

Table of Contents

  • About the Artist . . . .  2
  • Introduction . . . .  4
  • Gallery . . . .  5
  • Chapter one: Tools and Materials…12
  • Chapter two:  Modeling . . . . 14
  • Creating the Armature . . . . 16
  • Constructing the Heads . . . . 17
  • Roughing in  . . . .30
  • Refining Details  . . . .39
  • Chapter three:  Carving . . . . 46
  • Transferring Key Points   . . . 46
  • Creating the Laminated Block  . . . .49
  • Carving  . . . . 50
  • Appendix: Head proportions…70
  • About the Author . . . . 71
Purchase the book “In the Workshop with Fred Zavadil”
Price $25 Including S&H, Canada only


Co-published by the Ontario Wood Carvers Association and Legas.
ISBN 978-0-9810934-0-6 (OWCA), ISBN 978-1-897493-05-2 (Legas)
Printed and bound in Canada, 2008