The art of carving is becoming more popular and more expensive in Australia as a result of a combination of factors including a weak economy and a shortage of skilled carvers.
The trend is now so strong that a new trade group, Woodcarvers Australia, is advocating for greater competition between manufacturers to create a sustainable industry.
The Woodcarving Industry Council (WIC) says it has more than 60,000 members and has more members than the Australian Automobile Association.
But the trade body’s members don’t all carve at the same rate and some are less skilled than others.
Some are young apprentices, and the majority are women.
“A lot of people are very intimidated by it,” WIC president Chris Poulter said.
“I think most people are thinking of carving as a hobby or a job.”
He said most carvers were working a few hours a week but that in some areas of Australia, they are working for weeks.
“There’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to carve an apple in one day,” he said.
While the demand for woodcarvers is increasing, the number of people who are trained to carve a variety of different wood types has been falling.
The trade body says it will start an online training course in October to help people prepare for carving jobs.
“The number of woodcarving apprentices is increasing rapidly.
It’s something that’s very important to us that it’s something we all want to be involved in and have access to,” Mr Poulters said.
But while the trade group has started the training, there is no guarantee the trade will be able meet the demand.
It will have to be able train enough to meet the needs of a growing industry.
For example, the Woodcarves Australia union has been lobbying the federal government to allow apprenticeships to be offered to all apprentices to help ensure more people are learning the trade.
Mr Poulster said it would be a mistake for the trade to only be focused on carving.
“It should be about other things like other trades, like woodworking,” he told the ABC.
“You could be an apple carving apprentice, you could be a woodcarved furniture maker, you know, you can learn everything in one apprenticeship and you’ll end up a very successful woodcarve.”
He thinks that a more inclusive industry would be better.
“Woodcarving is a very diverse profession, there’s many different styles and colours and different types of wood,” he added.
“We need to have a greater diversity of skills and experience and I think that would be great for the industry and the country.”