Today we’re talking to artist and woodcarver Anya Walker. Her decorative and functional carvings are made from salvaged lumber and feature quirky, eye-catching designs.
She recently upgraded and decorated her spare bedroom workshop, but she also enjoys carving in the great outdoors while hiking or walking her dog.
Tell us about yourself. What do you make? What do you consider your best or favorite work?
I’m a Portland-based artist/crafter currently working with wood and embroidery.
I’ve been focusing primarily on designing functional wooden utensils and decorative pieces, and posting my process videos on TikTok.
My favorite pieces so far are these wiggly salad servers that I carved from salvaged walnut.
Tell us about your workshop
My workshop is the spare room in my apartment! It’s about 8 x 10 feet (ed. ~2.4 x 3 meters), and has a small woodworking bench and a table I made using two sawhorses and an old door.
I recently ripped out the carpet and made some foam padding for sound absorption so that it functions better as a wood shop. My next step is to figure out a solution for air filtration.
What is your favorite material or tool to work with?
I love using traditional carving gouges on hardwoods like maple and walnut.
I also love sandpaper, because the sanding process brings out the wood’s natural beauty.
How long have you been doing your craft? Who taught you or where did you learn?
I’ve been carving wood for about a year. I started when I lost my art fabrication job due to Covid, and needed something to keep me busy and inspired.
I’m mostly self-taught with the help of instructional videos on YouTube. My favorite is Paul Sellers — he has a ton of great tutorials!
What is the most challenging aspect of your craft?
So far it has been building up a collection of tools that allows me to be versatile when coming up with new designs. When I started out, I had no idea how many different tools, drill bits, jigs, etc. are needed for fine woodworking!
Read also: 12 essential woodworking tools for beginners
Sourcing sustainable materials is also a challenge. I want to stay committed to using all salvaged and discarded wood, which can limit my options when deciding what to make.
Any advice for beginners to your craft?
Take some time to experiment and research which types of wood are best for the project you have in mind. Some woods carve like butter, while others can be impossible to work with.
Also, I started out with only a hatchet and two whittling knives – there’s a lot you can do with a few basic quality tools.
Who/what inspires you? Any shoutouts to fellow makers?
I also follow a lot of designers and illustrators on Instagram, which is a great way to gather ideas about shape and composition.