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I t is interesting to see the difference between the style of stick making from America to the British Aussie styles and ideas.

Most American stickmakers mainly carve wood spirits usually quite similar in style and form . The shanks used mainly seem noticeable thicker with the bark removed ,(probably due to the variety's of woods available )

Another carving which seems to go down well is snakes sticks and there is some very good ones but again never seen one here

The majority are carved into the shank unlike the British approach

A few carves do carve topper standards vary somewhat but the main approach seems to be functional rather then decorative with a much thicker shank used

Probably due to access of materials available to people which is surprising its such a vast country and must have much large herds o animals that provides these materials .It just makers you wonder that there is a big market for people to exploit

English stick makers make a much wider range of decorative sticks and a larger range of forms for toppers both for waling sticks and hiking pole .

The stick making here is very competitive and a high standard and considering the population a much higher proportion of people doing it on a percentage basis.

the styles of walking sticks are petty good and working sticks are more prominent with the use of rams horns are prized generally considered to be the best

I have never seen a wood spirit carved on a shank here there must be some . This may be the attitude that some consider it naïve in approach and limiting in creativity. It does limit the appearance of the shank and wouldn't suit most carvers here although there is some good carvings on the subject,

The local stickmaker here at meetings offer a very wide range of both carved wood Ram and buffalo horn at these meeting giving a source of inspiration to members

just wondering what the American piont of view is on the subject.as its so different

The history of stickmaking is a fascinating subject and its this history that influenced stick making today both here and America
 

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I think the differences have everything to do with different histories.

The British working sticks with the ram's horn top don't seem to show up here. In America you will find the ash stick with the steam bent top.

The Irish are known for their shelailh(SP). Is this the same style used by the Brits? I find them to be rather monotonous as well.

In America the history of walking canes was one of gentlemanly style. The items showed a lot of variety, but generally were rather lightweight. They were for show. If the common man needed a stick for walking, it would be the steam bent ash or oak waist length that is found everywhere here. Or else it was just a branch picked up and put to temporary use.

Many of the walking canes found here now are derived from the recent flurry of interest in wood carving. The snakes and wood spirits are a desire to put carved decorations to use on a utilitarian item.
 

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I agree history and time have a great deal to do with the differences. In the UK they have been making canes/ sticks for hundreds of years longer. In our early history many of the canes and sticks were based on European influences. Then as we moved west Hiking sticks and cane became more of a tool and often a weapon. Stronger staff were needed. Many of the designs that develop were influences by the Native Americans who used animals, snakes and birds to decorate their sticks ,pipes and loge poles. A lot of those were and are spiritual in nature. The wood spirit fit in to stories of the mountain men and pioneers who led the exploration of the western US. Speaking for my self. When I do a wood spirit I have in my thoughts the old woods man in the deep forest. Or the pioneers who settled the land as we moved west. In the far west coast you will see the influence of pacific Indians. More fish and sea birds are used in decorations. In the south west you see the influence of southern pains Indians and south american Indians and Spanish. Sadly we do not have as many groups dedicated to stick making. There are a fair amount of carving clubs in the us and many of the members do sticks. The American National Cane Club is the only group I know of in America that is only canes and sticks. If I can get a couple of more stick people interested I hope to start a chapter of the ANCC in my area. I am enjoying learning more about the UK/ European designs and use of toppers. Topper give a lot of versatility to stick. I have had two new request for bear head sticks and one for an Elephant. The elephant is for a University of Alabama Fan. I Encourage our freinds in the UK to give a few wood spirits an try.
 

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I have done a few in my early stick making days, my good lady has recently asked me to do some as ornaments. gave the grandson acouple we had for his room at university

Human body Sculpture Wood Statue Art Head Eye Sculpture Human body Wood Sculpture Statue Wood Gesture Artifact

Here's one I whittled on a twig sat in the sun at the coast, this guy lives in my tool box wit my knives.

Wood Gesture Sculpture Art Finger
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
The shillelagh is typical of island and the Irish immigrants has influenced American style stick makers ,

Its not so popular here probably regarded as much as a weapon as walking stick as it tends to be heavy due to the material its made from.

The wood spirit is another version of the green man which goes back to the druids centuries ago and seems to have taken on a new meaning as CV3 has said. although originally from pagan form of religion and still has some meaning to people here . The catholic church used the image basically as propaganda material century's ago for there own means .

The native American Indian art is pretty interesting and quite a few sticks have there designs on them along with additions like beads but its there designs linked to there believes but instantly known worldwide, The talking stick isn't so well known to people

but the shank has ben used for most things from weapons to walking aids carrying food like deer and wild fowl over peoples shoulders catching sheep.

Its the Shepard's crook which is probably best known here most people would immediately know what its for. and most shepherds would have made one for there work

so a vast difference in cultures has shaped stick dressing .every where. Even the term stick dressing doesn't seem to be understood over the pond as well as here .

But I am still looking for a good book on the subject to read up .
 

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I am not sure I really understand the meaning you all give to dressing a cane. I have assumed it was the disign and finish. But it was a while befor I realized you were calling a cane a walking stick. That is what I like about this forum ,world wide sharing!
 

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It's interesting, in the Bible David differentiates between a rod and a staff. I believe one is a crook and one is a club.
 

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A cane to the English is a length of bamboo most people would associate it with something to use in the garden ,be used in bamboo furniture It would also and would describe a walking stick made from cane as a bamboo walking stick .A walking stick to us is a walking aid at wrist height used as a walking aid made from wood of some kind . just different terminology

To dress a stick is to decorate or shape it , place a topper on a hiking pole put a ferule and or a collar on it and oil or varnish the stick.. a hiking pole would be at approx. armpit height. We would also describe the stick as a shank and not a stick normally depending on the context of a sentence a stick would be a small piece of wood or a small branch of a tree

As for the bible I would think your right about the rod and staff but not enough knowledge to fully appreciate the context of the passage it is in

A dress stick would be something a Victorian gentle man would use although there are still a few discerning people about who do use a fancy walking stick for show mainly. originally these however would have been used by the wealthy and with silver handles etc, whilst the middle class would have used brass for handles etc. and the lower working class would have had a simple wooden crook handle.

A crop would be something you would use when horse riding with the swagger stick a military person would use

Just trying to clarify terminology for new comers over the pond.as we all have different sayings
 

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I've been looking for local woods that have good looking bark, and are reasonably straight. I haven't found any, Straight, yes, nice looking bark, no. For instance, American beech has both straight saplings and side branches. It is quite strong. The bank can be a clear grey, nice but rather boring. My attempts with it result in peeling bark, and the light silvery grey color turns black.

Not as nice as the British standards, such as hazel, and usually, not as thin and amenable to straightening.

There are no competitions near me. All the local stick makers are "folk" artists. No standard categories. Personal whimsey. I've seen maybe 2 contemporary high class gentleman's sticks being carried in the last 3 years. Usually, guys are walking w. something they made off the cuff for themselves. Nicer than a mass produced aluminum cane, but often clumsy looking.

As I've mentioned before, "cane" here is the term for an elderly or invalid's walking aid. Otherwise, "cane" is reserved for antique fishing poles or chair seat fabrication. Much different meaning in American English than British.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A Shepard's crook has a specific use to catch sheep around the neck and a leg cleek similar in appearance but a smaller crook to catch sheep on the leg

Usually made from rams horn and considered to be the best and most sought after stick. a cheaper versions of it is made using water buffalo horn although the same technique is used in the making.

both normally have what they call nose out that's a piece of the horn when the crook is formed the end piece is turned upwards and outwards to finish it off.this was originally done to protect the sheep. From damage whilst catching it and would be considered a well dressed stick
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
American stick dressers have there own style of dressing the stick very different taste to the English but some are outstanding in there work

It wouldn't go down so well over here as the thumb stick doesn't go down so well over there.

The diameter of the shank is also larger which the English would find clumsy would have thought it would be to thick myself as at one time it was considered the thing to do to go alpine walking using a spiked ferule but on the diameter stick we use today ,maybe its the wood species that makes the difference .I don't think a thicker wood necessarily is stronger it just depends on the type of wood used. With hazel and blackthorn ash holly are well know for there use.in stick making being both flexibly and strong .
 

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I like the stick to be 3/4" - 7/8" at the bottom. If I could find a fast growing sapling such as grows back from a tree that was cut back, it might be 1" at the top. Otherwise, it's more likely to be 1 1/4".
 

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I think if you ask 10 people for there preference as to diameter of the shank you would get 10 different answers and none would be wrong.

My preference for a shank is a 1 inch diameter tapering down to no less than 3/4 inch ,I wouldn't normally use anything larger than 1 1/4 inch in diameter.

A 1 1/4 inch diameter suits me well for wild fowl carving as generally speaking the carvings of there heads I carve are life size.

For birds of prey and alike that don't have a neck the transition from the head to shank I carve different . Some birds like these that don't have a longer neck looks wrong if you just carve the head and place it on a shank a bird like the puffin for example doesn't really have a neck so I would carve the transition different to that of a duck .Perhaps I haven't explained my self well so here's a example of what I am trying to say

For me birds of prey falcons owls etc. I would do the transition like that of the puffin otherwise I would carve the neck so the shank becomes part of the neck

Hat Cap Headgear Wool Personal protective equipment Cap Headgear Wool Woolen Fashion accessory Head Bird Eye Beak Human body
 

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I still favor the wood spirit as it got me started in stick making and carving. It is the most popular carving to be seen on walking sticks (hiking poles), in my experience, followed by "wild" animals, with the bear leading the pack. Eagles, wolves, birds and to a lesser extent fish all show up on a stick.

I have noticed the U.K. stick makers do a lot of dogs and waterfowl, also seem to predominantly paint the topper as the finish. Over here a natural look with stains or wood dyes as the finish is more the norm. Perhaps as has been said that is due to the large variety of woods we have to work with.

Walking sticks in the U.S. seem to be heavier bodied as the stick is a tool as well as a walking aid. The walking stick seems in my opinion to be used more in a rural setting. A stroll to the mailbox in the country may require shaking a stick at the neighbors barking dog. A walk in the woods may require brushing spiderwebs off the trail and a hike in the mountains may require a "third leg" to negotiate a climb up or down the rise. All of these functions of the walking stick are best accomplished with a heavier piece of hardwood.

My start in stick making began when my wife found a hiking pole a great aid in maintaining her balance while out for our walks. This woman, who has had both knees replaced, didn't want to walk with generic aluminum cane, so in retrospect she created a "monster" LOL.
 

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A natural hazel sank the size we use would easily do all that you mention , its used for the same purpose with the exception to the crook as it would catch a full size ram on the run which is a significant weight and force to deal with.as well

A crook and leg cleek is handy certainly made from rams horn for looks and quality cant be beaten in my mind its handy for pulling gates to and during harvest very handy for reaching those apple higher up in the tree

Its mainly due to personal taste I think but a thick heaver diameter wouldn't be so comfortable to carry on a longer hike due to its weight

But mainly a decorative stick is for pure aesthetic reasons a good talking point being a extension of a person character and usually so distinguishable to recognize at any distance

I realize the wood spirit is the most popular over there and is carved by most people who do them and there is a lot of differences I the quality of the carvings a lot of people also carve Christmas festive stick as well and call them, what you will like Santa stick but basically there all the same rose cheeks slightly larger eyes beard hat and lots of hair with a moustache .The animal sticks are much better in my opinion a wide range are done from bears snakes etc.the wood spirit is much of a muchness with everyone doing them and is what you expect from a lot of people those who specialise in in other carvings seem to stand out more

This isn't a criticism its just a observation of stick makers as one should carve including colour carve whatever you want. I just like a wide range of items.

I suppose if hiking poles where placed side by side what would you choose? this would be influenced by your upbringing and the area you lived in. but would you look for something different or go with the crowd?
 

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I think the history of the areas plays a part in the designs we see. Not a lot of shepherds here so there weren't a lot of crooks needed.

I'm thinking here in the states we can give sticks 4 basic categories and be pretty close.

1) Hiking stick. Generally any good stout stick will do. Not too many antique examples out there, probably because they were used and discarded as the situation demanded and if someone did have a favorite, it wouldn't have survived the hard use for long. Also, horses or wagons would have been used for traveling longer distances. I don't think too many people went hiking for fun in the early days here.

In England distances were shorter and horses less common so hiking sticks would have been more useful.

Paths were generally less rugged so a slender stick would suffice. No need for the heavier hiking staff we have here. Thumbsticks would be practical in this situation or a taller stick with a decorative topper for a bit of flair.

2) Gentleman's walking stick or city stick. Generally manufactured of fine imported hardwoods or malacca with a decorative knob or handle of some sort. Usually used more as an accessory than as a walking aid. Most of the antique gadget and weapon canes would fit here too.

3) Walking aid. The bent handled cane or simple handled stick, generally of plainer and less expensive materials than the gentleman's stick. Pretty much purely functional in nature.

4) Folk art. This is where the carving comes in. Think of someone who wants an accessory or walking aid that's fancier than the typical walking aid but can't afford the manufactured stick of imported or expensive materials. They either make their own or have someone they know make it for them. Generally made of locally available materials with carving, etc. added for a bit of decoration and individuality. Pretty much anything goes in this category.

That's just my take on it.

Rodney
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
You had just as many drovers as we did here .

You have a history of cattle ranches over mush wide distances not much need for drovers there .but all of your city's would have used drovers to get them into the right place as places like the main city's would have had drovers for sheep cattle goats ducks and geese in the late 188o`s because of urbanisation

We did use just as many horses here hundreds of thousands where still being used in the 1st world war and to move supplies around especial during the industrial revolution even tho this was the birth of canals

One thing the area I live in now was that it is renounced for its wild fowl and the drover used to drive flocks consisting of thousand s to the main city's.. Even today one item in a city nearby is called the Nottingham goose fair after this.

The paths are just as rugged in place s particularly those in wales and Scotland and the midlands and the moors but you see people using the same size stick. Regardless so size isn't a issue its people perception of what is needed

As for gentlemen's stick and folk art it is just the same.

.
 

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Variety, what a spice it is! If I could afford it I would probably have so many sticks in my collection that I could carry a different one each time I went out the door. I would order them from every corner of the globe.(funny expression, globes don't have corners.) I made my first stick over 40 years ago. I still have it. Back then I never knew anyone else that made one. I never ask myself why I like the things I do, I just do. Life's too short.
 

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I spose' if the wood spirit carvings weren't so popular it would be easier to expand my carving & stick making horizons. Haven't had much experience with the craft show scene but of the few I have been to everybody wants a wood spirit, it does get a bit old carving the same piece. I am trying to balance what is popular with expanding my horizons. Hopefully I can do a few owls, cardinals & blue jay sticks. Working on an owl topper for a maple staff as we speak. Actually its the second owl topper. I understand now why basswood carvings get acrylic paints as the oil based stain I applied to the owl carving looks like a blotchy mess, that one is off to the fire pit ...........
 

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When I started carving sticks the Wood spirit was the project that I wanted to do and was encouraged to do. As my skills improved so did the complexity of the faces and decorative design on the stick. Doing wood spirits was very beneficial developing my carving abilities. Learning to do a human face well and very expressions required that I do a lot of faces. It is also a subject that teacher many carving skills. I have lived or worked in all but 2 states west of the Mississippi river. I did many shows both craft and carving and would say that 90% of the time those who bought wanted a wood spirit on a single solid shank. I do incorporate leaves,animals, snakes and or birds, with the wood spirit. I guess we can all speculate the reasons for larger shanks the main reason I use them is to have the surface area to incorporate multiple subjects. This generally requires a 1 1/2" To 2" stick size at the top to allow for depth i want in the carving of the objects I am doing and maintaining the strengths and safety of the shank. When doing the topper the diameter the shank just needs to be enough to allow for the safe use of a tenon or rod. Like coblat I like verity and trying different subjects. It keeps things fresh. While I enjoy carving toppers and do. The planing of a design and theme around a central object like a wood spirit or animals face and carving it around a single shank is a more challenging project for me. We do seem to do a lot of wood spirits over here. Eagle head canes are very popular too.Whats that saying "Location, Location, Location" There seems to be a strong focus on the market stick in the UK. I think there is a preference that pops up based on history and culture of the area were we find our selves. It all about the fun and the challenge. If it was not both for me I would not be doing it. Working on my first real market stick now. Had to set it aside for some paying customers but I will be back to soon.
 
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