Monday, January 4, 2010

The Best And The Worst Of 2009...(Carving And Wood, That Is)

When it comes to carving wood 2009 was a new banner year for me! While browsing over my carving folders from last year it was quickly apparent to me that never before have I produced so much from wood... so much that I'm still in amazement. There were walking sticks galore, chainsaw carvings, spoons, totem poles, and so much more. By the way I carved a 15' totem pole in 2009 that I haven't even revealed yet! Yes, while it is true that some folks like to read books, while others like to fish, and some even spend their time wrestling alligators... I try to spend as much time as I can finding expression in wood. Wood has got to be the greatest most organic medium that an artist could hope for. I just love it.

So if I could narrow down all of my 2009 carvings to just one favorite, which one would I choose? In a way I don't like having "favorites" and look at such a question as being unfair and the potential for a biased opinion never makes be breathe with ease. When I'm working with my woodshop students it's also so easy to choose my "favorite" kid for a variety of reasons but I still make a devout effort to treat everyone as unique and special in their own way. Nobody is shunned and everyone is special. Nonetheless after spending the better part of Sunday contemplating this dilemma I finally had my answer as seen in the picture just above.

I decided to choose my super-duper deluxe backscratcher that I carved over a period of several weeks throughout each day whenever I had a little time. I did a video about it on June 23rd which can be found here. This particular carving was special and definitely stands out ahead of the others when I considered just how it came about. With most wood carvings I have a plan... a road map to follow and a final destination in mind before I even pick up a knife. Not so in the case of this backscratcher.

In the beginning I had originally intended for this piece of tulip poplar, from a limb on the ground, to be a large cooking spoon but that idea changed as I began to "see" something else. Once I had settled on a backscratcher I then began adding flowers and vines while trying to determine a good theme so it wasn't long before I knew that it would center around the "nature" of plants, animals, and the earth. Working from the center of the handle I then worked my knives outward in both directions with more flowers, a lizard, a snake, and even a butterfly. One idea led to another.

This is a project that I made up as I was carving it and the addition of one thing literally sparked my brain for the idea of what would come next. Sometimes I like this kind of free form carving which can be very relaxing and the catalyst for my most creative work. No rules, no plan, and no limits. The backscratcher is special and it will never be for sale. I just love it I guess.

The worst of 2009 didn't take but a second for me to decide. This centered around an accident that I had while using a hydraulic wood splitter almost one year ago from today on January 15th of 2009. The middle finger on my left hand got caught between a piece of firewood and a 3/8" bolt which punctured my finger in half like a paper puncher. It was severed in half a full 50 percent but excellent doctors put it back together with such expertise that today you can't even tell that it was cut in half. It works great and doesn't hinder my carving in any way and I am now the biggest proponent that the United States of America has the best health care professionals in the world.

From the pictures to the left, taken by a friend, you can see my finger just before the doctor began fixing it and then the injection to deaden it for suturing. By the way, this was very painless as they had me on a healthy dose of Demerol which had me in an altered state where my finger could have been cut off and I wouldn't have cared.

Yes I was lucky and had a full recovery but this accident was still the worst of 2009 for me. It is my goal for 2010 to be another banner year for carving so please be safe and have some fun!

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