Collecting Articles and Features

Stan Woodpecker Dodds and the Art of Critter Carvings

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Stan Woodpecker Dodds, born in 1928 and passing in 2012, carved a niche for himself in the world of English craftsmanship, leaving behind a legacy intertwined with the enchanting lore of Yorkshire’s ‘Critter’ craftsmen. This esteemed group of designer-makers, either trained in the workshop of Robert Thompson or inspired by his iconic creations, became renowned for their signature oak furniture embellished with uniquely carved critters. Dodds, the pioneering spirit among them, distinguished his work with the intricate carving of a woodpecker, earning his affectionate nickname and a revered place in the annals of British craftsmanship.

Stan Dodds For Mouseman, A Carved Oak Stallion Group
Stan Dodds For Mouseman, A Carved Oak Stallion Group  the fighting stallions raised on oval rustic base with carved mouse trademark in high relief, 14 1/2″ x 14 3/4″ . Sold for £5,800 at Hartleys, June 2023.

Dodds’s journey into the realm of woodcarving commenced at the tender age of fourteen, when he became an apprentice under the guidance of Robert Thompson, famously known as the ‘Mouseman’ for his signature mouse carvings. The apprenticeship was not just a job but a testament to Dodds’s determination; he cycled a 60-mile round trip daily from his home in Normanby to Kilburn, before securing lodging closer to his place of apprenticeship. Under the tutelage of George Weightman and possibly Joseph Heu, Dodds honed his skills, his craft flourishing in the hands of these master carvers. Dodds’s dedication remained steadfast, interrupted only by a two-year service in the RAF, until his retirement in 1994.

Stan Dodds’s personal life intertwined closely with his professional journey. In 1960, he married Norma, closely connected to the Thompson lineage, further cementing his ties to the legacy of the Kilburn workshop. It was in Osgodby, in a house provided by the Thompsons, that Dodds set up his own workshop. Here, amidst the tranquility of his home environment, he crafted oak carvings that would later be celebrated for their exquisite detail and craftsmanship.

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The transition from a rabbit to a woodpecker as his signature carving marked a defining moment in Dodds’s career, setting his work apart and highlighting the competitive spirit and camaraderie among the craftsmen of Kilburn. This change was not merely a matter of branding but a declaration of Dodds’s unique identity in the craft.

Workshop of Robert Mouseman Thompson Kilburn A Carved English Oak Boar by Stan Dodds
Workshop of Robert Mouseman Thompson Kilburn A Carved English Oak Boar by Stan Dodds. Sold for £5,200 at Tennants Auctioneers, March 2023.

Stan Dodds’s work, characterized by its intricate detail and the robustness of English oak, reflects a profound understanding of his material. His carvings are not just pieces of wood shaped into form; they are stories of endurance, skill, and a deep connection to the natural world. Collectors and admirers of Mouseman furniture hold Dodds’s creations in high esteem, recognizing the exceptional quality and passion imbued in each piece. His contributions to the tradition of the Yorkshire ‘Critter’ craftsmen is substantial with a growing number of collectors and prices for some pieces reaching the high thousands..

Mouseman Price Guide for Smaller Items

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