Available Dates: *
- JANUARY 9-11, 2023 Mon – Wed Sold Out
- FEBRUARY 3-5, 2023 Fri – Sun Sold Out
- MARCH 1-3, 2023 Wed – Fri Sold Out
- MARCH 13-15, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- MARCH 27-29, 2023 Mon – Wed Sold Out
- APRIL 21-23, 2023 Fri – Sun Sold Out
- MAY 15-17, 2023 Mon – Wed Sold Out
- JUNE 9-11, 2023 Fri – Sun Sold Out
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- JULY 28-30, 2023 Fri – Sun Sold Out
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- January 8-10, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- February 2-4, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- March 4-6, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- March 22-24, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- April 15-17, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- May 3-5, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- May 20-22, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- June 14-16, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- July 15-17, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- Aug 9-11, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- Aug 26-28, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- Sept 27-29, 2024 Fri-Sun – Sold Out
- Oct 14-16, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- Nov 8-10, 2024 Mon-Wed – Sold Out
- Dec. 4-6, 2024 Wed-Fri – Sold Out
- If your preferred dates are sold out, you may still make your reservation using the “Get on the Waiting List” option in the shopping cart. Cancellations are not unusual. You will be notified when new dates are added, or cancellations happen. It requires full payment to get on the waiting list.
Beginner Level Workshops (Retreats)
If you want to save some time, just skip this description and go directly to the reviews tab at the top of this page. I don’t think I can add anything to what my students have to say. We’ve never had less than a 5 star review.
Many people think they have no “talent” or are not “gifted”. This is wrong. You are gifted… you are created that way! You just need somebody to show you where those gifts are hiding. You will be THRILLED with the project you take home with you and will be fully armed with the knowledge of how to continue (should you decide to do so). That is my promise to you…
I realize that this looks difficult to do. It isn’t. It’s actually MUCH simpler than it looks. I’ve taught thousands of beginners using my method of a series of 6 individual steps, which when followed sequentially produce striking results. Every time. I’ve never had a student who wasn’t blown away with their project, the very first time. Ever.
My teaching method involves both hand and power tools. Both have their place. We will walk through the steps together, one at a time. It doesn’t matter if I am carving a large Disney project or a small sign… I use the same 6-step method EVERY TIME.
It’ll trip you out! You won’t believe what will come out of your hands at the end of the weekend!
Make it a vacation!
These retreats are hosted in my studio in Northern California (Grass Valley) nestled in the heart of California’s Sierra Mountain foothills.
Historic Grass Valley and nearby Nevada City are amoung the most interesting of the 1849 California Gold Rush towns, attracting visitors from far and wide. Both towns are national historic landmarks, and there is much to see and do while visiting. Beautiful Lake Tahoe is about a 90 minute drive and San Francisco is about 2.5 hours away.
Sacramento, California is the nearest international airport and is about 75 minutes from Grass Valley.
Many students opt for the Airbnb option for lodging. It’s flexible and inexpensive. There are also several hotels and private cottages to choose from nearby. We are happy to help you find lodging which works for you.
Snacks and beverages are provided.
When does this happen?
We schedule these retreats so that you can plan in advance. They typically sell out quickly after we publicly announce the dates, and availability can change quickly (but this website is updated as things change).
Some of these retreats are hosted on Friday thru Sunday. Others are hosted on weekdays, but those dates are always bumped up against a weekend to make travel simpler.
The first day of the retreat begins at 1PM here in my studio. We will go as late as it takes to get our projects ready for the next day, usually about 5 hours.
The second day begins at 9AM and will continue as late as needed to prepare your project for the next day. Saturday is an intensive day and typically lasts 8 to 10 hours or so. You will be tired but satisfied at the end of the second day!
The third day begins at 9AM and will continue as long as needed to complete your project. Typically 3 to 4 hours. The remainder of the third day will be open for travel or sightseeing.
Our nearest airport is Sacramento, CA and is about 90 minutes from here. There is shuttle service available but a rental car will probably work best.
Okay, Sounds great…. but what’s it cost?
Carving is a Zen exercise for sure… but it does require a certain amount of physical endurance as well. Please assess your own personal health for any health limitations to be sure you are in good shape for this!
Each workshop (retreat) is limited to six students. The cost is $1,650 per person for all three days. For this price, you will go home with a custom made sign and 3 days of fun!
All payments are non-refundable but may be used as credit in the event of unforseen circumstances which require you to reschedule.
Accommodations are not included but there are tons of nearby options, as mentioned above!
All tools and materials will be provided. Just. bring yourself and any personal favorite tool you wish, if you have some.
If this is a gift for a loved one, we are happy to provide a beautiful customized gift certificate. For this, contact me directly.
Check my page to see what my beginning students are doing… it’ll blow your mind!
Thank you. Looking forward to seeing you at a retreat!
Eric Englund –
The Weekend I spent at Raymond’s Retreat was very Educational and Relaxing. Raymond is an excellent teacher. You start off getting to know each other in Raymond’s home. After a short while you get right into it.
I have never had relief art explained in the manner with which Raymond does. It’s a personal experience as well as a awareness to your everyday surroundings. You pick your own design and learn Layout.
So right from the beginning it’s hands on and the excitement starts. With Raymonds expertise he guides you through the steps and you carve and paint this beautiful Sign. Raymond uses the best tools, and materials and guides you to the finish line.
I highly recommend this class and retreat. You will Thoroughly enjoy your weekend! Eric
Raymond Kinman –
It was a pleasure having you with us for the weekend, Eric! Your enthusiasm and positive attitude was contagious and your project was wonderful too!
Michael Dunning –
I had the privilege of attending one of Ray’s carving classes 25 years ago. Like many others I had no training in relief carving but after seeing Ray at one of the local woodworking shows I knew I had to learn as much as I could from him. The three days I spent with him at his studio in Lake Arrowhead, CA was the best money I ever spent on myself. For those of you that are thinking about attending his classes, you will be so proud of yourself with the end results and you won’t find anyone who’s more enthusiastic about teaching people this art form. Thank you Ray for passing along such a beautiful trade to others…
Raymond Kinman –
Thank you, Mike! Your project was just astonishing!
Joe Guzik –
Great weekend with Ray, and met 5 other inspiring (beginner or no experience, me) carvers. WORTH the time, the piece you make is yours, and its unique, and Ray is a GREAT teacher, and I just cant say enough great things about this retreat. I’m paying attention and keeping an eye out for an intermediate or advance course in the future from Ray. MANY THANKS for this new skill.
Lisa Reich –
I can’t believe that I made this!
That’s what you’ll keep telling yourself, when you look at your finished project after attending Raymond Kinman’s beginning woodcarving class.
Raymond is an amazingly talented artist and woodcarver and now I know he’s an equally talented teacher and coach.
We had a wonderful 3 days of crafting our signs following Raymond’s tried and true woodcarving process and learning from his 40 plus years of woodcarving experience. We left each day feeling positive and proud at our progress. Raymond’s hands on guidance and small group format for the class made for an enjoyable and fun weekend of meeting other beginner woodcarving enthusiasts and created a positive and supportive learning environment. This workshop is a busy three days but so very rewarding and I’m thrilled with my project and new found knowledge, and I have a much better appreciation and understanding of woodcarving artistry.
I’m looking forward to seeing more of Raymond’s work and those of his students,
Michelle Pothorin –
We loved this course!! With no experience with relief carving, we ended the weekend with signs we are exceptionally proud of and a new passion for wood carving! Raymond’s individual attention and guidance turns a timid beginner into proud creator, I was so excited to do this course but my husband believed he couldn’t possibly carve let alone create something so beautiful. I love how confident he became each day and now we both have a new passion and respect for this craft. Raymond did that! The power of a great teacher. I can’t thank you enough for sharing your skills and knowledge with us. We are already planning our next project. This class is a must for anyone curious about relief carving, we would only recommend Raymond!
James Treis –
To be able to learn the craft of relief carving from one of the masters was a once in a lifetime experience. Raymond’s ability to teach and instill in us the confidence to be able to design and create such a beautiful relief carving was so exciting!! I now have the knowledge and confidence to further explore this wonderful art form. After each retreat day I couldn’t wait for the next class to continue to learn Raymond’s relief carving method along with the tips he has learned from years of experience. Since I completed the retreat, friends and family couldn’t believe how creative and beautiful the relief carved sign looked!! I can’t thank Raymond enough for taking time to teach and guide us, with allot of one-on-one time, throughout the retreat. He provides professional tools and supplies. Also encourages you to take pictures, throughout the carving process, of your project, tools and products. This was my first wood carving experience and now I am already planning my next wood carving project. Each class member designs their own sign, with Raymond’s guidance, which allows you to learn additional carving/painting methods, that may not apply to your sign, as Raymond demonstrates different techniques to the whole class. The student “hands on” approach Raymond takes really reinforces the skills you are taught by allowing you to perform those skills on your project. I had a great time meeting the other class members during our journey into wood carving. This retreat really exceeded my expectations. Thanks again Raymond for your time, knowledge and hospitality.
Scott Arterburn –
I really, really enjoyed this retreat and was stunned at what everyone accomplished. Ray’s an unparalleled teacher, and proved it every day. All of us were able to create our own design under his tutelage. I learned so many techniques, I could practice for years! This is a great retreat.. I would recommend it highly to anyone who wants to learn.. you’ll be shocked what you can create!
Brandon smith –
This was an amazing experience. The feeling I got from sculpting a bare piece of wood into such an astonishing piece of art was such a healing experience. These were not my expectations when we started. The first thing that came to mind was I don’t have the artistic skills to make something so beautiful. I can draw stick figures and that’s about it. I can paint a house not a portrait. I turned out to be very wrong.
The atmosphere of the working space was warm even in the bitter cold of the beautiful outdoor setting. After the first day of working with the wood carving , when taking a break outside I looked at the surrounding trees differently. There was a connection to the trees that I could not explain and it was peaceful. Raymond and his wife took very good care of us the entire weekend. Thank you both so much. I would recommend this class to anyone that may enjoy a little peace in their busy life.
anthony luka –
To say you just did a wood carving class eould be a huge understatement. Ray took a rough rugged artless talent and turned me into a wood carving artist. From the moment you get there his home is your home he makes you feel like you’re family. He explains how easy the whole Proess is and all you can’t think is “yeah right” I don’t have a artistic bone In my body. Then you start and the picture you have chosen to draw starts to take life. From there you realize that the little dormant seed that has hidden so well in you starts to grow. The farther you get along in the process the more that seed turns into a tree of life and your carving has Come to life right in front of your very eyes. Now you might say I’m crazy for all this and it’s just wood and a little paint but for me it changed my life. If I could be here every weekend learning from Ray, I would. This man has a true calling and is truly blessed with a God given talent that he is sharing with the world. If you have the resources To do this experience wth Ray don’t walk or wait, you need to run to the opportunity. I am a changed man and I can’t wait to start more carvings and trying new things that I never would have thought was possible to do.
Ray thank you for one of the most amazing weekends of my life. You’re a true groundbreaker and life shaker, I pray that God blesses your home and everyone you come in contact with.
Stephanie Lundstrom –
Quit procrastinating and get on the wait list for an upcoming class. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn from an amazing, master woodcarver. You spend a weekend in a friendly, collaborative environment and come away with a fantastic project and some serious new skills. No talent or creativity required.
Kimberly Michelle –
Ray has a real gift as a teacher, as he infuses the air around you with passion, confidence and ease. I was extremely nervous on Friday night, not knowing how I could possibly create any sort of “art” by noon on Sunday. Yet hour by hour, Ray’s enthusiasm in our work and personal assistance erased all worries and it became a true artistic retreat. I left dreaming of my next project right away! Don’t think twice about signing up for a class… your only regret will be that you didn’t do it sooner! Thank you Ray for sharing your time and passion and skills with us!
Laura Gagliasso –
Wow! From minute one to end, Ray gently guided us through 3 intense and fulfilling days of artistic exploring. I was able to turn a blank piece of wood into a personal work of art that speaks to me. His guidance, his suggestions all tempered with, “Would you like to know what I’m thinking? But it’s not my carving, it’s yours. What Do You Think?” A consummate Master Teacher and Carver! I’m proud of what I accomplished this weekend! Thank you, Ray!
Laura Clark (verified owner) –
Raymond says that woodcarving is easier than it looks once you know how. I agree. He is a very good, very patient teacher. From layout to finished product he helps a lot with individualized attention. Finished product is beautiful.
John taylor –
Ray thanks for the opportunity to learn from you! You did a great job of guiding 6 neophytes through their first venture into woodcarving. You took an eclectic mix of people, with no prior experience, and over the course of three days of intense learning and through your guidance we all seemed to not only learn but excell in the art of woodcarving.
Nick K. (verified owner) –
Thinking about booking a woodworking retreat with Raymond? STOP reading this review & book it right now! You will thank me later 🙂
If you aren’t an artist or don’t have any experience carving like me, don’t worry! Ray is an outstanding teacher & made the entire process incredibly easy & fun to follow. I shaved YEARS off of my learning curve by attending his retreat.
In fact, it was a good thing I took pictures of my progress; simply because my family & friends can’t believe I made a piece so spectacular! Seriously, it’s that amazing…
Ray & his wife Marisa are some of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. They were incredibly welcoming & I felt so comfortable in their home & workshop.
This woodworking treat was one of the best experiences of my life, I highly recommend it!!
Ken Taylor (verified owner) –
I just had the privilege of attending Rays workshop. I don’t consider myself to have much talent but Ray brings the best out of you. His step by step process is easy to follow and you will be amazed at the finished product. He provides a lot of individual attention to each of his students. All of the materials are provided. Ray and Marisa are very nice people. I would encourage everyone to come to his retreats even if you don’t think you have any talent. Put this on your bucket list
Kim Hash –
I first discovered Ray about two years ago on Facebook and as a huge Disney fan, instantly fell in love with his carvings! I was a bit intimidated to sign up for one of the retreats as making a carving in a weekend seemed like an impossible feat. But, I couldn’t stop thinking about taking the class and the opportunity to learn from a Master Woodcarver. Besides participating in a few “paint and pour” paint nights, I truly didn’t practice any form of art. Ray kicked off the retreat with an introduction in his lovely living room, giving an overview of the “six steps” we’d learn over the weekend. By Sunday, as we finished our projects, each of the six students in our class were bursting with pride! We marveled at one another’s creations and at Ray’s gift, not only for carving, but also for teaching. My mind is swirling with ideas for future projects and I can’t wait to carve again! I give Ray’s woodcarving workshop my highest recommendation! PS – As a bonus, Nevada City has a super cool historic area that is a blast to visit! : )
Marlene Phillips –
My daughter; Katherine and I have been following Ray’s Facebook page for a couple of years. We had the privilege to attend his woodworking retreat this past weekend. When we arrived, we were welcomed into their home as friends. We already had an idea of what elements we wanted in our projects. Ray helped each student make a design and guided each of the six students through every step. We never felt lost or alone. Ray was incredibly helpful and insightful when it came to teaching us his process. It’s amazing how he can take a seemingly daunting task for a non-artist and make it a wonderful and exciting exploration of the craft. I cannot recommend this course enough. It is an absolutely wonderful experience that I will hold onto for a lifetime.
Amy Bradley –
Ray’s talent as an artist and as a teacher, truly is a gift to everyone that crosses his path. Ray is able to draw incredible beauty from each student, without them having had any prior experience. His patience honors each student and gives the student a once in a lifetime experience. I cannot wait to continue carving and to hopefully take more classes it’s Ray!
Randy Pearson –
The retreat was a wonderful experience, Ray and Marisa make you feel as if you were longtime friends. The class was small, just five of us, and we learned so much and had such a wonderful time. Over the course of the weekend, Ray was able to take us step-by-step until we had made our own personal “masterpiece”. It was something I could have never done on my own or would have even tried. Ray is an excellent teacher, his insight is amazing. We would ask how to do this or that and he would guide you through and you felt like you were doing it together, not just him telling you what to do. In the end, you felt amazed that you actually did what you did. I can’t wait to try woodcarving at home.
Stephanie Zuniga (verified owner) –
From the first time driving up to Ray’s home until you say Farewell was an amazing experience. I have never carved wood before and I had no woodworking experience except high school. Ray was so welcoming and treated everyone like he had known us for years. When choosing your design he really lets you use your imagination, while making sure you will finish on time. He wanted it to be something you wanted. Over the three days Ray always made sure he was guiding you along. He gave us his tips and tricks and made sure we all understood what we were doing before he moved on. I really felt I was in a one on one class. He had it planned perfect as well with time. On the last day we were so shocked at the masterpieces we had made and in such a short notice. Originally my husband was leery of me traveling to a unknown mans house, but after the wonderful experience I am hoping to take another class from Ray. For anyone thinking they aren’t artistic or talented enough, trust me, with Ray as your teacher you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. I can’t wait to make my next piece now that Ray has given me the skills!
Amber Eliason –
In the last year and a half, my husband and I have had the opportunity to visit National Parks, Ecuador, Hawaii, Southern California, Vegas, and Portland, but wouldn’t you know it- the trip that people ask us the most questions about is our little weekend at a carving retreat in Grass Valley, CA! It only took us the three days we had with Ray to find a new hobby that we are so excited about. Ray and his lovely wife felt like old friends, and were so welcoming and kind. We are so grateful for such an incredible experience- absolutely worth every penny! If you’re worried that you don’t have the talent for something like this, just know that if Ray could teach me, he can teach you, too!
vickiraecook (verified owner) –
I am back at my B&B resting after our last day of class. I have to say this was one of the best experiences of my life. My other 5 classmates were a joy to learn with. We all bonded and everyone’s projects turned out amazing.
The class itself was stellar. A short slideshow overview of the steps and what to expect then we jumped right into designing. Ray is really easy to work with, laid back, open to wacky ideas, and lets you challenge yourself, not just do some simple generic project that is easy and makes him look good.
I am interested in expanding this into a career and Ray was very encouraging and had tons of advice to share. I wish there was a place to add a photo of my project because for a first time carving I really was impressed with how it came out. Ray’s method of breaking it down into simple steps makes the whole procedure flow easily. As he says ANYONE can do this if they come to his class.
I cant wait to go back and learn some more advanced techniques. I give this experience an A++++
Thank you Ray
Jim Leavitt –
Having no idea what to expect, we were greeted to a peaceful and inviting home. Ray and his Fiance are excellent hosts, warmly welcoming all to “be at home” during this 3 day escape to there world of wood working. Ray is an EXCELLENT teacher giving step by step instruction and individual mentoring in selecting a template for ones personal wood carving masterpiece. Ray was very encouraging when I had little to no idea of what I was attempting to visualize and create. He helped me to arrive at a template, while drawing out my desires for a pattern as if it was entirely my idea and creation. He is very skilled and woodworking, but even more so at relating to peoples individual personality and demeanor. Thus making this a very enjoyable and uplifting experience. Ray is VERY patient and helpful, especially when mistakes are made. His positive, “we can fix it” manor of speaking was very reassuring to one who felt that creativity and wood carving skills had passed me by. I came way with a sense of accomplishment and a wood carved, painted sign that I will be proud to display in our home. What a wonderful and enjoyable two days. Also the snacks were yummy. Thanks again Ray for opening your home to us.
Dirk Geib (verified owner) –
Unforgettable experience! I was very excited to learn, but hesitant because i had no artistic ability. Ray encouraged us through every step of the process, from design layout to final paint and finish. If you are at all interested but don’t think you have it in you to create, i encourage you to sign up. You will be amazed at what you can accomplish in a weekend with the master woodcarver by your side. Everyone in our group was very encouraging and we all were amazed by the end result! Take lots of photos through the entire process. Thanks again Ray and Marisa for opening your home and sharing with us!
rookiefinger (verified owner) –
I’m 67 soon to be 68 and never in a million years did I think I could do woodcarving, but with Rays help and encouragement I completed my project. From start to finish Ray is there with you step by step encouraging you to artistic heights you never thought you would reach. I enjoyed every minute and I encourage you to test your artistic limits with Rays help. You will be amazed at what you can do. Thank you Ray and Marissa
Raymond’s carving class is a great experience, and I recommend it highly! You will absolutely leave with a final piece that you didn’t exactly expect…thats well above your expectations. Super fun, good atmosphere, patient and confidence inspiring teacher, and a life long fantastic memory! Thanks Ray!
Tim Bauer (verified owner) –
My retreat with Ray was all that I hoped it would be and more. I met some great people and Ray is a great teacher. He’s patient with everyone and really explains things well. Worth every nickel! I would recommend attending to anyone who may have an interest in carving.
Steve Gray (verified owner) –
5 Huge stars ! I would give more if that were an option. I had an amazing time learning from the MASTER ! Raymond is the best at what he does and you will end the retreat amazed at what you have accomplished. After a long trip from South Florida I was greeted and welcomed as if I were family. Right from the start I was so happy that I decided to attend the retreat. Raymond has a smooth, calm teaching style that helps you learn more than you can imagine possible. I can’t say enough GREAT things about this experience. Truly a life changing event for me. I consider myself lucky for the chance to attend his workshop. Thank You Raymond for the gift you have given me !!!
Jeffrey Himler (verified owner) –
Wow! What a weekend! I had a great time. Ray walked us through the entire process of first, designing our project on a level we could accomplish in the weekend, then through each step of the process. I can hardly believe I was able to do what I did. I’m now confident to move forward on my own. Already thinking up some more designs. If you’re on the fence about learning to carve, this is the class/retreat you need to take. Thanks Ray! You’re Awesome!
Kevin Lui (verified owner) –
Totally awesome! Results completely exceeded expectations. Many thanks to Ray for being such a patient and effective teacher. Highly recommended!
Bruce Barefoot (verified owner) –
GREAT class! I enjoyed it very much and learned a LOT, even having worked with wood most of my life. Ray is an excellent instructor and a master at his craft. I HIGHLY recommend this workshop!
Gary (verified owner) –
I just completed the class today (August, 2019). Definitely deserves five stars.
How can you justify the price? Just think about what you get and what you don’t get.
You are one of SIX students. The student-to-instructor ratio presented an ideal and personal training environment. Ray was able to spend quality time with each student and provide customized instruction.
Speaking of customized, this was NOT a class where an instructor picked a single project and taught all students how to do that pre-selected project. That would make so much easier for the teacher, and students might learn some general techniques, but students would take home a project that they may or may not ever want put on display.
Look at the Ray’s class photos. Note the variety. Everyone takes home their personally-designed projects. Ray provided guidance on the designs, but his guidance was based on our vision.
Take another look at the class photos. In addition to the variety, note the quality of the finished projects. Personally, I was afraid that my project would be the first disappointment in Ray’s long and distinguished teaching career. I thought his past students must have been more experienced than Ray portrays. But I am happy to say I am a beginner, but I am more than thrilled with my final project. (Look for “Gary Ellen” in the class photos).
So going back to the question about the price. It sounded steep to me at first, but after biting the bullet, I can safely say that it was worth every penny.
Don Sepulveda (verified owner) –
I have been working with wood making furniture, toys, boxes, and turnings for many years. However, I was intimidated by the concept of carving. I have never considered myself artistic. But others have said my stuff is art. I cannot draw very well and have a tough time seeing things in three dimensions at times.
Ray teaches the perspective of design and application. Through his teaching, I was able to view the object in multi-dimensions. He teaches the steps which allows you to “eat the elephant” one bite at a time. This is an important concept. I was inimidated by the idea of the finished product. Ray got me to think in steps and approach the piece in this manner. It is because of this class I feel there is an inner artist. I am now looking at things differently in my wood working and as I view signs and other art. Art is about the steps you take to make an idea become reality. The approach requires a different perspective. Ray was able to pull this out of me and I am now thinking differently about ideas. Since the class has finished my mind has been flooded with new ideas and concepts. More importantly, I am seeing how things can be done. I can now see the impossible become the possible.
Ray’s teaching takes you through those stages, from design to finish. You realize perfection is not the rule here. Your approach to the piece is. When you finish the project you may see some things you would do differently next time. This is part of the process. I believe Ray’s teaching method fosters this and encourages this.
I recommend this class to anybody who wants to add a new dimension to their woodworking or thier art. This is a class which offers something to everyone – beginner to experienced woodworker. When you take this class you will open new ideas and see things which were flat as three dimensions with personality. You will see the challenges and know how to meet them. This class is a must do. Thank you very much Ray.
Frank Lawrence –
Ray’s carving class was wonderful! He welcomed us into his home, his shop, and his world of carving. We started with a slide show about the overall process, and then got right into designing our projects. Ray worked with each student one-on-one to come up with designs that were personalized and meaningful for each student, and that were achievable over the weekend. Then we transferred the designs to wood, and routed away! Saturday began with coffee and slides of the next steps, and very quickly we were back in the shop carving! Ray moved easily from student to student, with encouragement, compassion, kindness, humor, and advice. When he says you’ll be tired at the end of Saturday, believe him! Only one student in our group had any drawing experience, but we all ended up with projects that far exceeded any possible expectation. Overall, I would highly recommend learning to carve with Ray. His approach will save you years of trial and error, and give you the skills and confidence to carve! Thanks Ray!!!
daniel durkton (verified owner) –
Hello, I just got through taking the wood carving retreat class over the Labor day weekend. What an amazing time Ray and Marisa are so kind to open their home to us . The class was once again amazing Ray is such a super chill guy . The way he teaches ,his knowledge of wood carving , artistry is amazing He navigate you through the whole process with ease . And my classmates were excellent . I know I sound like a broken record but it was a fantastic and amazing weekend. I highly recommend it for anybody who is thinking about wood carving or just want to try some new challenges .
Wes Cantrell (verified owner) –
Absolutely the best woodcarving class! I never felt intimidated. Ray was always willing to answer my questions and he genuinely cared about how we wanted our projects to come out. The weekend is very laid back and goes by quickly. If you are even considering signing up then don’t hesitate! The classes fill up way in advance. You’ll be glad you took the class.
Tom Moreau (verified owner) –
Wonderful class! I’m thrilled with how the project came out. Ray provided just enough guidance, letting me make decisions where appropriate and stepping in with advice and an artist’s eye as needed. The net result was a carving that was both beautiful and reflected my style. Also, we had a great group of students. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie.
Dave Lutz (verified owner) –
Just finished this amazing class yesterday, I can’t wait to say that I truly appreciated learning so much from a true master of his woodcarving art form. Thanks Ray for bringing a wonderful carving method into such clear focus. Our group of six students included some who had never carved, and some with a little experience. QRay has a real talent Not only as a carver, but also as a teacher. We all learned a skill we can keep and grow with, and made some new friends as well. To Ray and his wife; thanks for making us all feel at home, and to my fellow classmates; it’s been a blast!
bobameche (verified owner) –
It’s amazing what Ray was able to teach us last weekend. I never thought I would be able to create what I saw in all of those pictures of other classes, but with the gentle guidance of Ray, I did. The weekend flew by so quickly as we worked together in his shop creating our masterpieces. My fellow students were wonderful and encouraging and it was a lot of fun. Thank you Ray for sharing your many years of experience and skills with us.
Brian Ochs (verified owner) –
I wish I could adequately describe how much fun I had in this class and how much I was able to learn. I was very much out of my element and nervous about being able to achieve. From the beginning it is a very relaxed atmosphere and it was fun to get to know Ray as well as all of the other participants. It wasn’t long before we were hands on. Ray has excellent grasp as to where we need to be at the end of each day to complete the project. But what I enjoyed the most is how when I was so uncomfortable with the next step Ray made it seem so easy to accomplish and just gets you going in the right direction and before long you are doing it!! And it is looking good! At the end of our time together I feel I could carve other projects on my own and have them turn out well. It is impossible to be a master over a weekend but I have gained years of hard nock knowledge in a couple of days. I have the confidence to continue! Thank you to Ray. Treat yourself to this class!
Laura Zuber (verified owner) –
I took a chance with this class thinking I was in way over my head. I was not! Ray did such a great job instructing that I felt very confident and competent. You can do this! I had a lot of fun and learned a lot. I can’t recommend this class more. A terrific value and experience.
Jack Mueller –
This past weekend, in the forest of northern California, was a perfect bucket list check off. Ray is not only a great instructor but also a gentile host who inspires and draws out creativity from folks like me who believe we are devoid of artistic ability. I was truly impressed when Ray drew out my ‘Aha’ moment where the carving process became obvious and fluidly easy. Truly a memorable experience!
Esther Booth –
What a fun weekend. We learned tricks and tips about design, layout, carving, painting and preserving the wood. Ray shares insights for material selection, achieving layering, and importance of color selections. Everyone in the workshop loved their final sign. The class is small enough that Raymond spends plenty of time with each person. I can’t wait to put my sign up on my front gate. Grass Valley is a beautiful area of Northern California. Lots of nice restaurants, trails and a quaint historic district. My husband came with me and went hiking at Empire State Mines and Yuba River with our dogs while I went to the workshop. It was a win-win weekend for us.
Jim Lynch (verified owner) –
A weekend to remember!! While embroiled in the middle of a pandemic, I had an opportunity to travel to California for a true educational experience. Ray does an incredible job of giving a comprehensive view of woodcarving while empowering the student with the confidence to move his or her skills to a new level.
This is a fully immersible retreat – from design through completion of the project. The pictures shared on the website and social media are done BY THE STUDENTS! Ray’s ability to teach and encourage his students to move outside of their comfort zone is incredible. Ray’s kind, patient and positive attitude makes this Woodcarving Retreat a wonderful success!! You will be amazed at what you learn and what you can do.
Without a doubt, this was a very impactful weekend for me. A very special thank you to both Ray and Marisa for their incredible hospitality. A tip of the cap to my classmate Brett for his incredible work as well.
Don’t consider it…. SIGN-UP FOR IT!!
Brett Jarvis –
I had a blast at the wood carving retreat! It was so much fun and very relaxing to be working with wood. Even with working with wood for the first time and new to using the tools, it was calming to be working with my hands and creating a work of art. Even though it was the first retreat during the covid-19 pandemic, it was a very safe environment. Wearing Masks was not a problem as some tools used you want a mask to keep wood dust out of your mouth and nose. I highly recommend this workshop for anyone looking to learn about wood carving.
Kimberly Clark (verified owner) –
I attended a retreat two weeks ago and I am still in awe of the piece I created. It’s not because I have talent, it is because Ray has talent, not just at woodcarving, but at teaching. I had no experience working with wood in any fashion when I showed up. I was scared beyond belief that I would be the one that couldn’t do it. Ray never let my insecurities defeat me, he was awesome, yet so humble, it made learning from him a great joy. He and his beautiful wife Marisa were so welcoming it was like I was visiting old friends. It was also fun making friends with the other students. I would highly recommend this retreat. I’ve already asked my family if I can go back to try a more advanced project. Hope to see you there!
James Cochrun (verified owner) –
This was an incredible class. While I have some woodworking experience, I have never done wood carving. I didn’t have faith in me but Raymond did. He is a great teacher. Very down to earth and while he is extremely knowledgeable, he is also very humble. I’m already trying to come up with ideas for me next project. After some more experience, I might take the class again and try more a more advanced project. All four of the students got along so well and had fun. Thanks for the great weekend Raymond and Marisa.
Awesome experience! Was worth the time and money. Rays hands on approach, knowledge and ability to teach was just what i needed to get started with carving. Have been a woodworker for years but felt the carving aspect was something i could never grasp. I was mistaken, his techiques work. Was happy to be witb a great group of people for this experience. Ray and Marisa are good people. Thanks for everything and wish you the Best!
Jon Nishikubo (verified owner) –
I just completed Ray’s Woodcarving Retreat and there aren’t enough words to describe how good this class was. Ray’s talent is his ability to carve wood. The gift he has is the ability to teach these skill to anyone. Through his 6-step method, Ray teaches you how to use relief woodcarving to produce a project by the end of the weekend that will amaze anyone. Ray helps you design a project that can and will be finished within the 3-day retreat. He is there to advise and demonstrate techniques, but all the work is done by you.
Ray and Marisa were awesome and treated you like a long-time friend of theirs. My fellow students were great. If you have any amount of interest in this experience, do not hesitate to sign up. At the end of the weekend you will be surprised how much of an artist you really are and most importantly you will have fun!
Marjorie Ormsby (verified owner) –
5*!!! So amazing that in just a few days, you can create your own masterpiece. It’s the Rolls Royce of a retreat as Ray not only guides you, offers suggestions and let’s YOU create the masterpiece, but he has all of your tools, bench space, and rags right at your own workspace. Then, the last morning, he has the toolbox closed up and you appear with a nice set of paints on a pallet to begin the vibrant details. Everything is prepared for you so all you need to do is create! You will cherish your masterpiece and all of your friends and acquaintances will be amazed! Bonus…he let’s’ you know exactly which tools you use and where to get them so that you can continue to create masterpieces at home! I loved it so much, I did his class twice!
Robert Gearhart (verified owner) –
Ray’s class is an amazing experience. He has a multi-step process which keeps you on track, makes sure you never feel overwhelmed, and which results in a great looking final product that you take home with you. He supplies everything you need: from help with the design, the wood, the power tools, a full set of quality wood gouges, wood protectant, and a multitude of paint colors and brushes.
I was worried beforehand about the design. I had a vague idea of what I wanted when I arrived. But then Ray helped turn the idea into a design that was both fun to carve and looked great. I highly recommend this class!
Megan Beatty (verified owner) –
This weekend was amazing! I can’t believe how great all the projects turned out since none of us had really done wood carving before (a couple of students had done the home video project first). It really is amazing how following his steps helped everyone create something that looked professionally done. Ray was so patient, answering all our questions, and was such a great teacher. What an awesome opportunity to learn from a master as a beginner, and everyone left motivated to keep carving and building upon what we learned this weekend. Definitely do this class! I’d love to do another in the future to hone my skills a little more when I get some more practice.
Chuck Browning (verified owner) –
Raymond’s carving retreat has been on my bucket list ever since I learned about them a few years ago. I finally went for it and attended the April 2021 retreat. What a blast! Ray and Marisa welcomed us into their home and treated us like family. The level of instruction that Ray provided was superb. He was attentive and patient as he explained and demonstrated each phase of the process, and he moved from bench to bench to give individual instruction. From the design to the completion of each student’s project, Ray was right there. I can’t say enough good things about this retreat and I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this great opportunity!
john lindl –
I attended the woodcarving retreat as a x-mas present from my daughter. Since I was completely new to woodcarving and had no prior knowledge of Ray’s workshops, I was uncertain what to expect. However, the approach to woodcarving, and the tool kit that Ray makes available to each student delivered everything promised. At times during the project when I was not certain how to move forward, Ray would stop by with suggestions. At the end of the weekend, I had a carving I am proud to have made. When I show it to friends, the reaction has been: “No way you learned to do that in just a weekend” or “How many failures did you have before making one that good” – none! As a bonus, my wife and I made a van trip mini-vacation out of the weekend.
Brian (verified owner) –
Ray’s a great teacher, patient and reassuring. It’s funny to see how “easy” he makes it, as he breaks things down into digestible lessons. And I would consider that to be a mark of true teaching AND art: Simplicity, yet a lifetime of discovery if you can master the basics. My goal for the weekend was to spark my imagination, and find a new creative outlet. Sadly for me, I thought of some great projects after I got home that I would’ve loved to have done Ray looking over my shoulder. But that was my goal (spark imagination), so I’m looking forward to getting to work on them myself! Thanks Ray & Marisa on a memorable weekend!
Brian Rowley (verified owner) –
The beginning woodcarver retreat could easily have been the best birthday gift ever. I had never attempted carving before this class, and I had no idea how or what steps to take first. Raymond does such an excellent job explaining the action in simple words that a beginner can leave with a piece of art to be proud to Show off. The small class size makes it great to pick up tips as Ray explains to others a technique or how to approach the task at hand. I can’t recommend this retreat enough, and it was a great weekend. I can’t wait to get carving
Anthony Palacios (verified owner) –
Well, sadly I cannot say that I attended this wonderfully amazing class myself but Instead, my wife and I gifted this retreat to our son (23 years old) as a Christmas gift. We traveled to California with him & toured the local area while he was in class. Every night after class back at our AirBnB, my son could not stop talking about what he learned and the different steps he learned that day. He (my son) would show us pictures and videos of his project taken throughout the day and tell us how easy Ray made each step. As a parent, nothing is better than seeing the joy in your child’s eyes and in the smile on their face (even if they are 23 years old) which was made possible by Ray and this wonderful retreat!! Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!!
Caleb Harris (verified owner) –
Ray is a phenomenal teacher and the retreat is well worth the trip! I still can’t believe that I made the sign I took home after the weekend. Also, the location is absolutely amazing. It is definitely far kore accurate to call this a retreat than just a class.
spgearty (verified owner) –
Just attended Ray’s woodcarving retreat, the word that keeps coming back to mind is WOW. Ray and Marisa could not have been better hosts. Ray puts you at ease and very patiently walks you through each step in his process, then gently guides you every step of the way. Over the past year I have been trying to teach myself to carve with very limited success. I gained more skill and had dramatically more success in one weekend with Ray then I got from a year of trial & error. Thank you Ray
Gary Armstrong (verified owner) –
A real treat this retreat! My wife and I had a blast hanging with Ray and fellow wannabies at his woodcarving retreat. Ray is one laid-back cool dude, full of great experience, knowledge, patience and humility, the embodiment of a true Master Teacher. Had an outsider walked in on our class, they might be hard pressed to distinguish teacher from student as Ray could often be found admiring each newbie’s creation and handing out high-fives as much as despensing guidence, advice, and pointers. Ray creates an environment where learning can advance and students flourish. Don’t miss out on this great learning opportunity, treat yourself to an experience you’ll always treasure. Oh, and bring a friend!
Michael Mariant –
I just attended Ray’s workshop last week. Some quick background: I purchased and watched Ray’s online video class right when it first came out back in 2019. Just from that video alone, I started a career of woodcarving signs. I then signed up for the retreat but COVID delayed that until last week.
Here is what I wrote to Ray the other day:
I just wanted to write to tell you thank you so much for a great woodcarving retreat. The experience was amazing, the hospitality warm and welcoming, and the camaraderie with everyone makes me long for it all.
The level of learning beyond the video tutorial and couple years of carving I have was above and beyond what I imagined. I was so nervous (even feeling nauseous) the first two mornings, as I haven’t carved a project — start to finish — in just two whole days before. I was overwhelmed with fear. But in Ray we trust!
Looking at the Donald Duck Play Ball sign I carved, I still can’t believe I carved it, yet alone in such short time. What was nervousness is now slowly building confidence in my abilities, thanks to you and your six-step process.
Not only did I leave with better and refined carving techniques, but the little tidbits of knowledge and wisdom you shared was priceless. From Dremel bits to painting tips to shaving the tips of my gouge to a fingernail gouge, it all came together in an amazing retreat you created and offer.
I wish you offered a next-level course, but I can hear you saying, “Nah, man, you have it all now. Just go carve!”
Thank you so much. Truly. You lit a creative carving fire within.