A Dying Art

In the past several years, my life has become a complication of computers, design, children, food shopping, meal preparation, attending college, and just life in general.

I love my boys more than life itself, and part of me wishes I could keep them small forever…

But, at the same time, I look forward to a time when I don’t need to worry about them around sharp objects. I am, by trade and by nature, a woodcarver.

I miss the smell of freshly cut wood and sawdust…the feel of a blade smoothly shaping wood into the image I see in my head.

There are few things on this earth that can make me feel as grounded as creating something from a chunk of wood. It brings to mind days of old…when life was simpler and we were more at peace with nature. It gives a sense of power – taking something as steadfast and strong as a tree and creating something completely different from it. Yet, it humbles me as well, knowing what a gift this ability is. A common misconception is that Jesus was merely a carpenter…He was, in fact, also a woodcarver.

I began woodcarving at the tender age of 13 (I will be 40 in the spring) in a class my mother had enrolled me in. I was nervous – these tools are as sharp as razor blades – but I was also fascinated. After a few weeks of classes, I was offered a job…and I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve created countless hand-carved signs, sculptures, gifts, and tools – yes, I even learned how to forge my own tools from the steel of old butter knives, screwdrivers, and drill bits. Do I have any pictures? Some…the projects came and went so quickly sometimes that often a camera was the last thing on my mind. However, here are a few shots of some of my favorite projects.

This was the top of a standing sign for a jewelry store – it’s 3-dimensional, and made of 2 pieces of wood.

This was a plaque the Massachusetts State Police had us make in memorial of a Trooper who died while on duty. (I know the picture is horrible – the sign was in a crate, and the Trooper who commissioned us was in a hurry to get the K-9 dog home.)

This is a detail shot of a tavern sign with a relief carving in the center.

This eagle is 6 feet long, hanging on a garage. The wood it was carved from was nearly 6 inches thick.

This sign is my pride and joy. It’s 5 feet tall and 8 feet wide, and was carved out of 6 inch thick wood. This was the first project I ever used an airbrush to paint.

There isn’t much to this carved license plate holder, but it really was for Reba McEntire.

A woodcarver can create virtually anything you can imagine. I’ve had the honor of working on an 8 foot tall, free-standing eagle with a 12 foot wide wingspan, Christmas gifts that were purchased by Rosemary Clooney and Stephen Tyler, and countless other projects.

If you’d like to see more of this dying art – including some pieces that are in progress, head on over to Lyn’s Loft – my mother is still actively carving, and I am insanely jealous. 😉

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Comments

  1. Those are really beautiful pieces. You are very talented.

  2. I’m blown away by your talent and creativity! WOW! I can’t believe you carved such wonderful things. Go you!

  3. April says:

    Wow, Cheryl, those are so beautiful! I paint too, and I’ve done some leather working, but I can’t imagine making something so huge! I hope you can get back to what you love doing soon.

  4. Krissy says:

    Wow those are amazing! I love seeing other people’s creations. I can’t even imagine how you begin to plan out how to take away the right amount of wood to create anything or at least not take to much away from anyone spot. It’s like all the carvers from Rome etc that carved statues out of marble! Me I would have probably messed up with the first few strikes. 🙂

  5. These are beautiful! You truly have a gift. 🙂

  6. Connie says:

    I love seeing other art forms that people have a passion for! You are definitely talented and I am thoroughly jealous of your ability to work with pointy sharp tools without chopping off a crucial limb or digit!

    • Well, that’s not necessarily true, lol. I’ve got plenty of battle scars…and my mother actually cut her finger yesterday working on a rose plaque. It kind of goes with the territory. As you go on carving for years and years, the time between wounds just ends up getting progressively longer. 🙂

  7. Those are incredible pieces! I tried using an airbrush once and it was way harder than I imagined. You’re one talented lady!

    • Airbrushing isn’t really that hard…it’s the knowing how to get the look you’re going for that is :-). Also, I think 13 was the perfect age to get into woodcarving…I’ve been doing it for 26 years already, and it’s become a part of me.

  8. jennifer says:

    Wow. Amazing and beautiful. I just went to a conference where they gave out plaques for the annual awards that were wood-carved instead of the usual boring plaques you get at those things. They were so lovely, I wished I had gone up for an award.

    I hope you’re able to get back into it soon.

  9. Chelle says:

    Wow, Cheryl, those are amazing! It is so cool when we have something like this to do to create peace within us. I really want to know what you made for Stephen Tyler!

    I have been cross stitching since I was a teenager and still love it. I have created so many things and didn’t really think to start taking pictures until the past year. I also made a few quilts and gave them away – all sewn by hands with hundred upon hundreds of stitches. These gifts are made out of love and from the gift of our time and talent. You have an amazing talent. Is there any way you could find some space and time to do this as a hobby? You should never have to give up the thing you are passionate about, even if you only do it for a little bit of time every day or week.

    • If memory serves, Stephen Tyler bought an eagle and a carved Santa figurine…naturally, I was at school when he came into the shop, so I didn’t get to meet him 🙁 . Unfortunately, woodcarving requires space and dangerous tools, and my 5yo is at the point where he gets into everything – he’s even climbing over the gates we put on the office doorways to get at things that aren’t his. I can be patient…I also paint (oils and watercolors), draw, crochet, cross-stitch, and just about anything else I can get my hands into. Once the boys are a little older and hubby won’t have such a difficult time watching them, I can go to my mother’s house and work in her loft. 🙂

      • Chelle says:

        Cheryl,

        That’s awesome. We always need to maintain that creativity! I would love to see some of the other things you have done, especially the cross stitch. We can compare notes!

        I am making Christmas wall hangings that are cross stitch and beads for my mother and mother-in-law. They will be absolutely gorgeous and I will be sad to give them away, but I have put a wish list on 123stitch.com. Hopefully, I will get some new things to make for Christmas this year!

  10. Teri says:

    Wow wow wow! You are so talented! They are gorgeous!