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Sean Hellman - Woodwright Designs

Fan birds, carved wooden bird

Fan carving is thought to have originated in Russia, east of Finland. Within Europe, the fan bird dove is also known as Holy Spirit, dove of peace, ceiling bird, Christmas bird, spirit bird, whittled bird and shaving bird, among many others.

The bird was hung from the ceiling in the home so that it can move with any breezes. It represents or symbolizes the Holy Spirit, protection, health and happiness for the family. Customs in Europe vary: some are more religious but all are about happiness, protection and good health.

All birds are sent in their own cardboard box ready to hang with a leaflet describing their history and how they are made. Often given as gifts, these fan birds make great christening presents and unique Christmas decorations.

Please email me to order which birds you wish to buy and I will send a paypal invoice


fan bird raven

The Raven

Made from a hardwood and coloured with a black stain.

These birds come in 3 price bands



Price:£25, £30 and £35

inclusive of postage


small fan bird

Small fan bird

The smallest fan bird in the series

Supplied in a 4 x 4 inch cube brown cardboard box with a leaflet explaining the legend of the fan bird and how they are made.







medium fan bird

Medium fan bird

Midsize fan bird in the series.

Supplied in a 5 x 5 inch cube brown cardboard box with a leaflet explaining the legend of the fan bird and how they are made.







large fan bird

Large fan bird

A large fan bird in the series, these generally have more detailed decoration, more feathers and a beautifully curved wing pattern.

Supplied in a 5 x 5 or 6 x 6 inch cube brown cardboard box with a leaflet explaining the legend of the fan bird and how they are made.







round winged fan bird

Round wing fan bird

A fan bird with a more rounded wing shape

Supplied in a 5 x 5 inch cube brown cardboard box with a leaflet explaining the legend of the fan bird and how they are made

Price: £22 to £35

inclusive of postage



humming bird, fan bird

Hummingbird with wooden flower

A fan bird in the style of a hummingbird drinking nectar from a flower. For ease of packing the bird, flower, stem and base all come apart. Just put the stem into the base the flower onto the stem an put the birds beak into the flower, no glue needed. Stand about 12inch or 30cm high.

Supplied in a brown cardboard box with a leaflet explaining the legend of the fan bird and how they are made

Price: £50

inclusive of postage

love fanbirds, kissing birds

Kissing birds, or love birds

2 birds carved from the same piece of wood and joined at the beak. It takes great skill to carve 2 birds so that they achieve the correct balance.
Approx 6inch or 15cm long and 3.5inch or 9cm high

Price: £60 to £80

inclusive of postage


goose, swan fanbird

Swan and geese fanbirds

Fanbirds with long necks, made in the style of swans and geese.

Price: £30 and £40

inclusive of postage





coloured fanbirds

Coloured fan birds

Fanbirds that have been stained with light fast stains. Any style and size can be stained. A single coloured stain is the same price, a 2 or more colour stain is £3 extra per bird.







large fan bird

Larger fan birds

We supply birds that pack into a 8 x 8 cube box. These may not be in stock but can easily be made to order. These include the traditional 2 piece fan bird



Price: £35 to £55 per bird



Fan carving is not just about birds: all sorts of artifacts have been whittled from a single block of wood, including fans, flowers, birds, and dancers.

All fan carving is made from a single block of wood. The feathers are rived, or split from the wood with a small hinge still attaching them to the rest of the wood. The solid part is carved into a bird and then the feathers are twisted and interlocked together to form the wings and tail.


The legend of the fan bird

This is from Sally and David Nye who wrote the excellent book "More fan carving"

During the Medieval Era, families lived in one-room log houses that were covered with clay inside and out. There was just one window covered with a dried animal stomach during the winter and a small smoky stone fireplace.

One family in northern Russia lived in such a house with a young boy who was very ill. He lay on his bed where he was covered with furs. People came from neighboring villages to try to help him regain his health, but all efforts were in vain.

It was the end of winter, and his father was sitting by the fireplace making baskets.

Tired of lying in a stuffy house, the ill boy asked, “Dad, is summer coming soon?” His father replied, “Soon son, very soon. Just a little more and summer will be here”. Then his father got an idea. He thought, “I will make a bird from this piece of wood. I will make it to look like a real bird with wings and a tail. Maybe my son will think summer has come and the birds have returned. That would make him very happy”. The father said, “I will make summer for you”

He made a bird and hung it from the ceiling near the fireplace where his son could see it. The draft of the hot air streams from the fire caused the bird to spin. Its wings began to move and suddenly it became alive. Thus, the bird assumed magical powers and became known as the Holy Ghost, safe keeper of children and symbol of family happiness The son was filled with joy and his health improved. The people from the neighboring villages returned to ask how the boy was healed. When they heard the story about the bird, they asked the father to make a bird for their home to safeguard and protect their family.

An old video of Sean making a fan bird on a shaving horse


Another video of Sean making fan birds at the Bodgers Ball 2009, filmed by Stuart King.





More information and pictures about fan birds can be found on my blog

Do you want to learn how to make fan birds, then book a days tuition.


tea towel holders

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A great way to hold tea towels and small towels

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Course Name

Woodwork courses

Green woodwork tuition.

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Course Name

Fan bird workshop

Learn to make fan birds.

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