I’m a woodcarver who has been carving for over 42 years. At the age of 16, my mother had a massive stroke. My brother tried to draw my attention away from constant worry and asked me to carve a chess set out of wood since he and I were both on the chess team at Boonville High School. After carving my first chess piece, I fell in love with the art of woodcarving. I continued to carve at leisure but wasn’t serious about it until I met the girl that became my wife; while we were dating, I would carve her sets of joined hearts.
At the age of 21, I joined the United States Air Force. Since there was always a lot of down time and/or “hurry up and wait” time while deploying, I purchased some woodcarving books to learn different carving techniques. I started with smaller pieces such as horses and cowboys, and eventually tried my hand at carving a carousel horse. This taught me the art of wood joinery and how to dimensional carve and carve larger pieces without them breaking. Soon, I was able to undercut which gives a shadow, and then started relief carving.
Moving to my next duty station of Iceland afforded much more free time. Due to lack of trees in the region, I started scavenging and hoarding wood from the beach. Vikings were the founders of Iceland, so I started carving them. This led to my first encounter with selling my art to the U.S.O. on base. I was finally making a profit from the hobby that I loved! The demand for my carving was high, and ironically, I found myself with no time. To this day, people still send me photos of those carvings from almost 25 years ago, still hanging in their homes!
Each duty station thereafter, I tried and found my niche carving and selling plaques for squadron duty rotation gifts. South Georgia, Okinawa Japan, and Alaska allowed me to carve maintenance badges as going away gifts to fellow Airmen; I still carve them to this day and ship them all over the world. While in Alaska, I started carving eagles and have since continued that art.
High relief carving is probably my favorite type of carving, as to me, it tells a story in wood. I carve from all types of wood, be it hard wood, soft wood and reclaimed/found wood, and use the reclaimed/found wood in most of my pieces. My skills include in-the-round carving, high relief, chain saw carving and all fashions of wood carving.
I retired after 24 years of active duty service and returned to my home state of Indiana after traveling the world. Duty stations were Travis AFB in California, Keflavik NAS Iceland, South Georgia, Okinawa Japan, and Alaska. I am a self-taught carver. Every destination I’ve lived at and visited has inspired me to appeal to a specific customer need and has helped me push myself to provide quality and cherished hand-carved pieces.
Seeing art within a piece of wood comes easy for me. The art is in the wood already, my carving skills and attention-to-detail allows me to take off the excess wood and reveal the object it’s meant to be. I find woodcarving relaxing. Woodcarving for me relieves stress either by deferring an issue or allowing me time to think an issue through while I carve; it’s second nature to me. I prefer carving wood for customers that has meaning or sentimental value, such as barn wood that has been in someone’s family for generations, or a tree from the property that they may have grown up on. I feel I can bring a story out of a piece of wood.
I find myself carving wood until the day I die. It puts me into a zone of comfort, warmth and peace.