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Watch a carver at work or enroll in a workshop yourself. Demonstrations are given during most days that the Museum is open. Workshops, ranging from an hour and a half to ten weeks in duration are offered throughout the year. All programs listed below meet at the Wendell Gilley Museum in Southwest Harbor and are taught by Carver-in-Residence Steven Valleau.

Introductory Carving Lessons for Adults and Children
June 1–September 14

Lessons for beginners ages 11 to 110 are available from 11am–12:30pm and from 1:30–3pm most Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays during the summer. Hatch or hone your bird carving skills with your choice of a Northern Cardinal, Black-capped Chickadee, American Goldfinch, or Common Loon as your subject. Gilley Museum carving kits include the materials, except knives, needed to get started carving at the Museum and to complete the project on your own after your lesson. Carving knives will be provided during lessons or you may bring your own.

Daily fee for each class, including kit and museum admission:

$20 Museum members / $25 non-member

Return lessons (using kit started in first lesson) $15 each

Carving Class

Saturdays, October 27 through November 17, 1 to 4 pm

Details to follow for this 4-week class.

Museum Members’ Carving Club

November through April 1pm–4pm

All members of the Wendell Gilley Museum are welcome every Friday afternoon, from 1pm–4pm, November through April, weather permitting. (Call to confirm, if stormy.) The club is an informal gathering for the purpose of working with fellow carvers, sharing tips and using the reference resources of the Gilley Museum. Often homemade baked goods and freshly brewed coffee are an added benefit. New members are welcome to join at any time. You don’t have to carve to enjoy the camaraderie (or coffee). It’s a good time to use the Museum library or to get something from the gift shop.

Ornament Carving Workshop

Sunday, December 1, 10 am to 4 pm
or Sunday, December 8, 10 am to 4 pm
Steve Valleau will start participants with a basswood blank that has been roughed out, and teach carving and painting techniques to create a beautiful bird ornament during this one day workshop. Because these sessions have been so popular in the past, we are offering two dates this season. The workshop is open to both beginning and experienced carvers; children 11 and up are welcome with an adult. Attendees will find that they can enhance both their artistic and naturalist skills as they look closely at reference materials to create their carved bird ornament.

$25 Museum members / $30 non-member

Pre-registration is required for all programs except Members' Carving Club. Enrollment is limited; payment is due with registration. Fees will be refunded if cancellation is received at least two weeks prior to the program or your space can be filled. For additional information, please call the Museum at 207-244-7555 or send an email to

RECENT past programs

Birds at the Brewery

Wednesday, March 21, 1 to 4pm

An introdcutory carving class and “Club at the Pub” are on tap, as the Wendell Gilley Museum and Fogtown Brewing Company team up for a craft-filled afternoon. The warm atmosphere at Fogtown, located at 25 Pine Street in Ellsworth, will be filled with lively conversation and bird carving at this pop-up event.

Steve Valleau will teach an introductory carving class, and lead participants in crafting a Solitary Sandpiper. Club members may bring their own projects to the table or work on a sandpiper. Hand-crafted beer will be available for purchase to toast the handcrafts.

Red Knot Silhouette Class for Youth
Saturdays, March 24 through April 7, 10am to Noon

Youth from 9 to 17 can transform a wooden cutout into a realistically detailed silhouette decoy of a Red Knot. This threatened species has one of the longest migrations, as they travel nearly 20,000 miles from Tierra del Fuego to Artic breeding grounds and back each year. This project is happening in conjunction with the Ward Museum's World Carving Championship youth division; Gilley staff will enter completed pieces to the Ward competition in late April. 

American Oystercatcher Carving Class

Fridays, February 9 through April 6 or

Saturdays, February 10 through April 7

(due to illness we have changed our start date to February 9 and 10)
Carvers, both novice and experienced, can sculpt an Oystercatcher over this 10 week class. Participants will transform a wooden bird blank into a detailed finished work, as they learn carving, texturing, and painting techniques. One class will meet on Fridays from 9amnoon, another from 1pm–4pm on Saturday afternoons (no class March 16 and 17). With a bright red bill, the American Oystercatchers feeds on marine invertebrates found in sandy or muddy beaches and bars. Valleau, who has been teaching carving for thirty years is excited to introduce this more southern shorebird to our Maine winter.
$80 with Museum membership. Pre-registration required.

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