My first carving lesson happened in an unexpected way.
I was in Townsend, Tennessee, doing some hiking in the Smokies and had breakfast in one of the local restaurants. The server and I got into a discussion about pyrography. I had just started wood burning on my flutes, and the server told me that she had created a DVD on how to do pyrography.
I could purchase a copy at Gene Webb’s workshop and store. I had heard of Gene. He was a skilled wood carver in the area, and I’d seen his work – carved and painted animals that looked like they might start moving at any minute.
When I was back at the restaurant eating breakfast the next day, she brought Gene to the table to meet me. Gene, wearing boots and his trademark snakeskin cowboy hat, happened to be eating there, too.
Gene and I talked about carving and the next day, I had a carving lesson with him – a gift from a friend.
We started with a tour of his shop, and he showed me a range of his work, from small carved bears that were a favorite for tourists to a large commissioned wood sculpture of a rearing horse. Being in his shop was a thrill. I saw all of his tools – some for hand carving and many for electric carving.
He asked me what I’d like to learn to carve, and I said a face.
We agreed that I’d carve a Woodspirit.
He selected the wood for us to work with, and we got seated at the table in his workshop. He showed me how to select the best chisel for each part of the carving and demonstrated techiques.
At the end of the hour lesson, I’d carved my first Woodspirit. (See photo.)
I was delighted.
I purchased several tiny little chisels and a carving glove. Several years later, I added to my carving tools when I received my Uncle Chuck’s woodworking tool kit from his children after his passing.
Gene told me that the time would come that I would want to use electric tools in my carving. And he was right. Now, depending on the project, I carve both with hand tools and with electric tools.
Lately, I’ve been carving Christmas tree ornaments, including some owls. I’m always intrigued with how a creature takes shape as I carve. The owls features come to life through a combination of carving and pyrography.