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Friday, March 23, 2012

Why Woodcarving?

In celebration of National Craft Month, here is another article from one of our talented craftsmen at Sauder Village!By Jean McDonald, Sauder Village Craftsmen
What could possess someone to want to get up at 7:00 am on Saturday mornings to watch television? That is when a PBS series, Woodcarving with Rick Butz, aired in the 1990s featuring Rick Butz, a woodcarver from New York State. It was fascinating to watch him create figures from little chunks of wood as he continually reminded his viewers that anyone can carve wood.  I was prompted to make a donation to PBS in order to get his book that featured the projects in the series. Now, it is almost 25 years later and I have yet to meet the person who unwittingly tweaked an interest that became a passion for carving.

I love to demonstrate carving at historic sites because the children always come up with new and interesting comments and questions. Adults ask things like, “How long did it take you to carve that? (Answer: I don’t know because it was fun.) What kind of wood is that? (Answer: Probably basswood because it carves nicely or maybe something that was free. Free basswood is the best.) Kids ask questions like, “Why did you make it purple” and “Can you make a dragon?”  It is great fun to encourage them to touch the carvings and talk to them about their own creative processes. I always ask them if they are woodcarvers already and they usually say no. My response is always, “Well, it is not too late for you to learn.” You can usually see a spark of interest light up in their eyes as they imagine themselves, knives in hand, attacking a chunk of wood.

Woodcarving can be enjoyed with a minimal number of tools. A knife, gouge, a v-tool and a sharpening strop can get a person started doing relief carving, three dimensional carving, animals, caricatures, architectural carving, folk carving – the possibilities are limited only by your own imagination! There are many woodcarving books, classes and carving clubs in the area to help new carvers get started.  The internet is also a great source of information and supplies.

Sauder Village is one of the few places where time truly stands still for me. It has been one of my favorite places for many years, enjoying art, craft, and history. Visiting the farmhouse is just like a visit to my grandmother’s home. I remember when Grandma heated with a coal stove and you knew it was “safe” to crawl out from under the warm comforters from the unheated second floor bedrooms when you heard the clinkers rattling and coal pouring into the stove for the morning fire.

I love attending the Woodcarver’s Show and Sale each October and now am very fortunate to be able to be a part of the event by setting up a table and attending classes.  Another favorite activity is to be able to volunteer to demonstrate fiber art in June at the Focus on Fiber Arts event. What great fun to pack up my spinning wheel and wool and spend the day spinning and talking to visitors about another activity that I love. This past summer I also worked in the Basket Shop and Tin Shop a few days each week weaving baskets and making my favorite, tin cookie cutters. The visitors are great sources of information relating their stories and memories.

If you are interested in learning more about woodcarving here are some sources I have found useful:
Woodcarving with Rick Butz by Rick and Ellen Butz
How to Carve Wood by Richard Butz
Woodcarving Illustrated - a magazine published by Fox Chapel Publishing. www.woodcarvingillustrated.com
Woodcarving Magazine, www.carvingmagazine.com
National Wood Carvers Association - P.O. Box 43218, Cincinnati, Ohio 45243
Woodcraft  - 577 Foundation, Perrysburg, Ohio
Sauder Village Woodcarving Show - October 27 and 28, 2012

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