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MAY 1998



The May meeting will be held at the Chisholm Community Center on May11, 1998 at 7:00PM. The center is available to us from 6:00PM to 9:00PM. The monthly BOARD MEETING will be held from 6:30PM to 7:00PM before the meeting. Santuck dates to mark on your calendar are June 6, July 4, August 1, and September 5.


Summer is fast approaching and its time to hone your knives and chisels and start making the chips fly. First, a goodly group has signed up for Janet Cordell's class on carving a horse on May 22-24 in Santuck. It should be a great class. We'll be using chisels only and if you're a "knife person" or a "power person" there's a lot to learn about chisels. You know, the carving schools don't allow knives, power carvers, or even "V" tools. I guess that's why the Brienz Woodcarving School in Brienz Switzerland requires 90 "Swiss Made" chisels (made by Pfiel of Switzerland) to be in the carver's "introductory" kit. Every sweep and size of chisel has a specific cut and purpose for the European carvers. Most carvers after graduating from the Brienz school have a supply of several hundred chisels. For the European carvers a "7" sweep, 10 mm gouge just wouldn't do for a cut that requires a "5" sweep, 8 mm gouge. Oh well, that's what makes a pro, I guess. Janet Cordell will give us a taste of such perfection. Even if you're not registered for the class, drop by and watch a spell! It's in Santuck at Bab Brand's new facility.

Also this July is the SE Woodcarving School in Hope Hull. We have a good response so far from registrations. The last I heard there were 97 signed up. There are probably more by now.

See ya at our next meeting, May 11th.


Art or Craft? As you undoubtedly know, there's been a grand debate raging for years now about whether woodcarving is an art or a craft. You've seen the articles in Chip Chats about it, I'm sure. Although this is certainly not the definitive answer, woodcarving can be both an art and a craft. When I took my first woodcarving class at a Parks and Recreation Department sponsored event in Merced, California in 1976 there were only about 3 books published on the subject and woodcarving was in the Whittling category (everything handheld and done with a knife). There were very few true artists among the carvers. It was a craft. Many carvers were carry-overs from the days farmers sat on the General Store porch and whittled sticks into linked chains, balls in a cage, etc. The books in existence showed how to do these novelties.

Things have changed since. Now most of the better known carvers (such as Janet Cordell, Rex Branson, Neil Cox, Fred Cogelow, Marv Kaisersatt, John Burke, Rick Harney, etc.) are sculptors, creating visual pieces that interpret our world. These carvers are true artists in the same sense that the great stone sculptors of the past were artists, or those who create masterpieces from oil and canvas are artists. Their renderings come from their own vision of reality and are transferred to wood.

So, are you, as a woodcarver, an artist or a craftsman? Perhaps only you know, but here are some distinctions that might help you decide:

1. Was your carving rendered from a pattern in a carving book, a roughout, or the result of a project taken in a class? If so, your creation is not your creation. It is the creation of the book's author, the original carver from whose creation the roughout was made, or the instructor of the class. Your carving, no matter how good, is a craft item.

2. On the other hand, did you conceive of the idea yourself? Did you do research to decide how to bring your idea to life? Did you take a block of wood and work out all of your ideas, conquer the problems you encounter, and then, when it's done, proudly sign your name and date it? If so, you are an artist, no matter how far from perfect your humble project might be. The International Woodcarver's Congress, which will have their annual show from 25-27 June at the Putnam Museum in Davenport, IA (I'm going, I wouldn't miss it for the world!), has as its express purpose to promote woodcarving as an art. Consequently, their rules forbid carvings done from patterns, roughouts, or class projects. Unfortunately, there are always those who seem to prize ribbons over integrity and some who show don't follow the rules, as the following excerpt from the latest Congress Newsletter stresses:

"'Show officials and/or judges may disqualify any entry which is recognized as coming from a duplicated bland, or was produced in a seminar or during a class. Originality is stressed in this competition. Please let your conscience honor that commitment.' That seems to be fairly straightforward and clear, doesn't it? Recently a piece was entered that took a first

place in it's class and went on to take first in the Group Category. A wonderful piece of work! After the competition was done and everyone went home, we found out that the piece was carved in a one-on-one class with an instructor, with the instructor doing a sizable amount of the work. Another fine piece of award winning work was found to be an exact replica of an existing porcelain creation in a gift shop."

Art or craft? If you're a craftsman, be the best that you can be, but don't pretend to be an artist. If you're an artist, you're both an artist and a craftsman, celebrate it, and promote the art!


This month’s tips come from Ron Wells, Resident Carver, Valley Road Woodcarvers, Silver Dollar City, MO

Some of the carvers at Silver Dollar City have used a method for carving large figures out of basswood logs which I would like to share with you this month.

1. Rough out the carving while the log is green. This gets rid of much of the wood so that there is less of it to dry. It also relieves some of the stresses. The log dries faster with less cracking.

2. At some point early on while the log is still green make a chain saw cut the full length of the log to the very center of the log. Make this cut on the back side of the carving. This allow the moisture to escape through

this opening. The saw cut will open wider, but the log will dry faster with only one major crack on the back of the carving.

3. Set the roughed out log aside for only one year. After a year it will be ready to finish carving the details. You will have one large crack on the back of the carving to patch and hopefully only a few small ones on the front. You will have some cracks to patch. There is no way to get away from this with a green log. The patching is usually done by cutting wedges of wood to fit the cracks, so save the scraps as you rough out the log.

Drop by the shop, Valley Road Woodcarvers, in Silver Dollar City, and I will be happy to show you carvings done with this method from 20 plus inch logs. Depending on the day you come you may even meet the carvers who did them.



Carving Supplies Needed

Several weeks ago Carol Jean Boyd, Alan Carmichael, and Jimmy Brand went to Branson, MO for a week of carving classes. While there Carol Jean met someone from Sevierville, TN she had met before and he gave her a letter, which she passed on to the club. I'll reprint the entire letter as it explains things quite well:

Dear Carver,

I'm teaching a group of children at the Home for Children in Sevierville, Tenn. About 8 - 10 children live in a large cottage with a man and wife who serve as house parents. The experience has been spiritually rewarding, and a reminder of how grateful I should be. To date I have furnished all the tools and materials needed for the class.

If any of you might have some simple carving blanks, roughouts, scrap carvable pieces, it will go to a deserving group. We could really use small hand V- tools, gouges, kevlar gloves (med. & small sizes), knives, books, instruction tapes, etc. Should any wish to make a monetary contribution the tax deductible check should be written to "Home for Children - Cottage #1 Carving Group."

Thank you for you indulgence and any way you can support this project. The first class has been so successful that they want to start another one.

Thank you & God Bless,

Dan Rhymer"

If you're like me you probably have some old blanks, tools you don't use, etc., that this group would really appreciate. The club decided that at the next meeting (May 11th) we'd all bring anything we'd like to donate. See you then. Ed


Enclosed in this mail-out is a current roster of all members who have paid their dues for this calendar year.