The workshop will run from Sept. 13-16 at Hawthorn Hollow. The cost is $100 plus processing fees. 

Hawthorn Hollow to hold Relief Woodcarving Workshop Sept. 13-16

Tom Schlenker to share his knowledge gained over 40 years


Hawthorn Hollow grew out of love for the land. As a nature sanctuary and arboretum, Hawthorn Hollow has been connecting people and nature through environmental education for more than 50 years. Walking trails invite visitors to explore a 12-acre arboretum, the woodlands of the Pike River Valley, prairies, gardens, and historic buildings of Somers’ past. Hawthorn Hollow is owned and operated by the Hyslop Foundation, Inc., a non-profit 501 c3 organization formed in 1964.

Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary and Arboretum is happy to announce our upcoming Relief Woodcarving Workshop with Tom Schlenker. The workshop will run from Sept. 13-16 at Hawthorn Hollow. The cost is $100 plus processing fees. 

Tom Schlenker has been a woodcarver for over 40 years. Originally inspired by the intricately carved wooden doors and altar pieces he saw in Guatemala where he trained at a furniture workshop in his 20s, Schlenker enjoys finding ways to combine old and new styles to create truly unique pieces. Schlenker found himself drawn most to relief carving, and has studied this ancient art and refined his talents.

“Each piece gets better as your skills grow.”

– Tom Schlenker, to beginners on woodcarving

Relief wood carving involves removing wood from a flat panel, creating a “picture” that slightly stands out from the surface itself. As more wood is removed, the image can be refined to make it appear to be 3D. This means the artist has used their skills to create the illusion of depth within the carving, a process that Schlenker admits is what he enjoys most about the craft. Low, or Bas Relief carving means the carving stands out less than ½-inch from the wood, while high relief can project up to two inches. 

Schlenker’s goal is to help people who are new to carving. Although intimidating at first, “a few simple techniques are all you need to create a beautiful piece,” Schlenker said. “I want to give you the building blocks to begin and continue your woodcarving journey long into the future.” 

And, of course, practice makes perfect. 

“Each piece gets better and better as your skills grow,” Schlenker said.

The workshop will run from Monday through Thursday, Sept. 13-16 from 6 to 8 p.m. each day. The fee covers all four sessions. Participants must provide their own tools. For a full course schedule and description (including tool list) or to buy workshop tickets, please visit: