Tuesday, 13 May 2014

How to make a Gruffalo

Take one of these:


and one of these:


and you get one of these:



Simple hey?  Well, no, not simple at all.  You need the skill and expertise of someone like chainsaw carver extraordinaire Neil Bruce.  You need a lot of room, you create a lot of mess.  You need to be holed up in a draughty barn for 4 months to produce 15 of these fellas.



Neil has been tasked with producing the Gruffalo sculptures which will be heading out into selected forests in time for The Gruffalo's 15th birthday on 7th June this year.

They are part of the collaborative celebrations with the Forestry Commission who have introduced a number of self-led Gruffalo trails in their forests. They are also holding a special birthday party with lots of events going on around the country.  Sign up online for your free downloadable party pack bursting with ideas and inspiration for holding your own picnic party to celebrate the birthday.

Speaking to Neil and watching him create his masterpieces was incredible.  The skill and intricate detail he manages to produce was a joy to behold.  He takes hard wood which has come from several different Forestry Commission sites - either through storm damage or trees that were allocated for timber felling - and turns them into these magical beings.

Each carving is different, portraying the Gruffalo in a different pose.  Each one is hand painted, with all the details you'd expect - his orange eyes; his terrible tusks, his purple prickles all down his back...





We were among some special guest who were allowed a peak into this secret barn to see the work in progress.  We saw many of the statues which will be heading out soon to a forest near you.  We witnessed the artist at work and watched as a tree trunk suddenly developed two horns under the expert use of his chainsaw. We spluttered through the dust and rubbed it from our eyes.



The children; much to their delight, got to paint one of the statues.  This was the first time children had been let loose near the Sleeping Gruffalo and we witnessed the pride and joy in the creators eyes as the kids descended wildly on the slumbering statue; jumped on him; sat on him; and all at once, all together cupped their hands round their mouths and bellowed "WAKE UP GRUFFALO!!!" into his wooden ear!  Neil was thrilled with this reaction.





After a messy painting session, it was time to head indoors for some lunch and some cupcake decorating, then there was a quick play in the outdoor park area and some clambering on the Gruffalo off-cuts, before the heavens opened, and it was time to leave the secret location and say goodbye to the Gruffalos - until we see them again!





Disclosure: we are official bloggers for the Forestry commission and receive an annual Discovery Pass.  We were invited to this event and received a goody bag.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

17 comments:

  1. How fun, Liz! And what a great forestry project! Art in the woods, I guess? Your sweetie looks like she was having a great time. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

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  2. Just beyond cool, and being able to paint one too - that's something they'll never forget!

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  3. Thes eare amazing how fab to be part of it

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  4. Oh wow, they are incredible, love that they are going to live in forests too! It must take a lot of skill to be that talented with a chain saw. I would probably just accidentally chop my head off! :D

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  5. I REALLY want one for my garden. They look incredible.

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  6. What a wonderful opportunity for your children and you, looks like it was a blast!

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  7. What an amazing opportunity - I can't believe the Gruffalo is 15. I look forward to seeing one myself.

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  8. AM so delighted to discover one of these is destined for Moors Valley- they look epic, and will definitely be going to see for ourselves!

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  9. Wow they look amazing! Don't think I would like to come across one in the deep dark forest though!

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  10. Such an art to be able to carve wood like that and into something so Awesome. A great day for all who were with you and I love that the children got to help with the painting. Wish we had a Gruffalo coming to our local woods and I would love a Gruffalo trail around our lake where the morning tractor rides now go, I think this one may be beyond Farmer Nick though! Thank you for joining me for Country Kids

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  11. What a talented guy - these are just gorgeous. I really, really, really really want one for my garden - what do you think the chances are?! xx

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  12. what a lovely day and what an artist!

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  13. This is so cool. What an experience! I bet Ruby was beaming with pride when she was painting the Gruffalo.

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  14. This looks so SIMPLE yet they must be so so hard to do. But I love them. I want one in my garden. Imagine having your own pet Gruffalo!!!

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  15. Wow. It is always nice to see an artist show, do his artwork! My son is so in love with Grufallo at the moment and seeng this would be a treat! Thanks for sharing photos =) #CountryKids

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  16. What fantastic fun!

    To see one made in real life and then to have the opportunity to paint it too, those are memories to endear forests to children for life.

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