“Wood” do you like to learn sculpture?
By LYLE T. GALLOWAY
CHERRY RIDGE, PA – The warm, earthy scent of lime blossom filled the dance hall room. Experienced hands guided novices as they worked at their own pace on woodcarving projects.
The Cherry Ridge Carvers hosted the 19th Annual Northeast Woodcarvers’ Gathering at Cherry Ridge Campground.
During the four-day event, several classes in different styles of woodcarving were held, where individuals were able to learn how to carve everything from poplar bark houses to ‘curly-haired Kris Kringles’.
While it might seem difficult at first, Muller said that basically anyone can learn how to sculpt if they want to put in the time.
âYou’ll have someone say to you, ‘Oh, I couldn’t draw flies on a hot day,’ but it’s not totally ‘draw’, it’s’ take away. It’s like erasing. You get a piece of wood and you erase yourself until you have something, âMuller said.
Muller began carving in 1998. When he attended his first Roundup of the Woodcarvers class, he learned the art of relief carving from a veteran woodcarver named Andy Fairchok.
âIt was amazing to have this person. He showed me how I badly sharpened the tools and how to sharpen them correctly. The things that I learned that took me months or years from a book or a video were onlyâ¦ in hours, âhe said.
One of those teachers at the event was Michael Bloomquist. He specializes in Scandinavian flat plane sculpture, a type of figure sculpture performed in large flat planes.
Before teaching others the art of sculpture, Bloomquist was a professor of physics. He later traveled a lot to work in a different field. He would bring a few drafts and a small tool kit with him to pass the time. His interest in Scandinavian culture grew out of stories passed down by older members of his family, who emigrated from Sweden in 1921.
âis modeled on telling a story in as few cuts as possible. I start with a square, then cut all the corners until I have an octagon,â Bloomquist said.
Bloomquist showed his students how to carve a “Tomte”, a Swedish folklore gnome in the style of Santa Claus. He explained that Tomtes acted as guardians of the farms. If the creature found out that the cattle were being abused, mischief would soon follow.
Other pieces he carved were wooden spirits, trolls, pie tongs and a whale intended for a sick friend bearing the words “Get a whale soon!” “
âI made them for friends in a hospital bed, you know they can’t escape a pun,â Bloomquist said with a laugh.
Another regular in the woodcarver roundup was George Basehore. Basehore gave lessons in wooden spoon sculpture. He exhibited a collection of wooden love spoons that he carved. âThe love spoons are of Welsh originâ¦. A gentleman would carve a love spoon for his girlfriend, and it would be like a proposal, âBasehore said.
One of the most interesting parts of his collection was a spoon carved from a 275-year-old tree that grew in President James Buchanan’s yard.
Basehore began carving in 1997, creating representations of wooden animals. He was introduced to the art by a friend who said it was a good hobby and a good way out of frustration.
âIf you’re wrong you throw it in a corner and you get designer firewood,â Basehore said with a laugh.
Basehore’s good sense of humor also provided him with another project: carving wooden cigars.
He recalled one evening when he was teaching a class on how to make them, when another sculptor’s cell phone rang. As the man’s wife was on the other end of the phone, he answered the call, saying they were all drinking a good cigar, prompting his wife to hang up on her.
“He said ‘George, I don’t know if I have a house to go to tonight, I told my wife I quit smoking three weeks ago!” says Basehore.
More seriously, Basehore belongs to the American National Cane Club, where he carved canes for veterans. Each would be personalized and presented to the vet at club meetings. So far he has donated 85 canes to vets.
For most instructors, woodcarving is more than just a way to cut hours. It teaches valuable lessons in patience, attention to detail, and appreciation for art.
A raffle was held at the close of the event, where tools, sculptures, walking sticks and all kinds of other prizes were handed out. The biggest prize in the auction was the “Stick of Friendship,” a long walking stick made up of various unique sections made by the Cherry Ridge Carvers.
The lucky winner ended up being Amanda Brooks, who took the stick of friendship with her to Missouri.
Cherry Ridge Carvers actively encourage new people to try this hobby. There will be a Fall Carve In, which will be held September 24-26. For more information, visit www.cherryridgecarvers.org.