By Leigh Ann Rutledge
PERRYSVILLE – A school field trip left a lasting impression on a young boy who, years later, is embarking on a new career.
Doug Ash of Perrysville has been drawing since he could hold a pencil in his hand. In second grade, his class toured the Warther Museum in Dover. Ernest “Mooney” Warther’s carvings made such an impression, Ash said, “From then I wanted to be a wood carver. They would give out one small pair of carved pliers to a lucky child in the class. I didn’t get them.”
Ash feels he has taken steps in his life that have led him to opening a wood carving business. He does not have an official name yet, but he is in the process of establishing the business side. Often times, his creations can be seen in his yard located at 7037 Scio Rd. near Perrysville.
Ash began whittling wood and took art class in high school, graduating from Carrollton in 2000. After high school, he held some miscellaneous jobs before coming back to his artistic talent. He became a tattoo artist and, with his fiancé, Erica Burrier, opened a shop in Minerva.
While in Minerva, he met Joel Bowman who owns Bowman Tree Service. Bowman now supplies the pine logs Ash uses for carving.
Ash did ad art copy for a time. This would require him to draw city blocks in a map formation placing business, restaurants and historical markers in their proper places. Each sign on the buildings or in the ground was lettered as the original. He created these drawings on 24×30-inch boards.
Another step Ash took in the direction of carving involved another hobby-hunting. He had a rifle he wanted to have a thumb-hole stock. With an oak board, he created the stock he wanted. Soon friends began requesting his handmade stocks.
“Creating the stocks is what really started it all,” he said.
After finding a large sandstone in the creek, Ash decided he would carve an Indian face it.
“I am using a hammer and a chisel and my dad asked what I was doing,” Ash explained. “He brought me an air chisel and I carved the Indian.”
He has done other stone carvings, such as a giant heart heading out SR 332 and an eagle on Canyon Rd., along with others.
Along with his drawing skills, his chainsaw skills are self-taught. When he moved back to his childhood home to help his mother take care of the place, he installed an outdoor wood burner. To use the burner, he had to cut. To cut wood, he bought a chainsaw which led to another step.
His first official carved piece was an owl made from black walnut. He tried to create an eagle out of walnut but said it looked like a parrot. He continued trying to carve hardwoods, like cherry because he thought they would not split.
He didn’t think pine would work until he was invited to a wood carving competition at Tall Timbers Resort in New Philadelphia. He and Erica pulled into the competition with merchandise, one saw, a tote and a milk crate with the gas and oil. Ash noticed everyone was carving pine, not hardwoods.
“People kept asking me where are all your saws? You don’t have a carving bar?” Ash laughed. “They gave us this piece of wood about six foot long and big enough around both Erica & I could wrap our arms around.”
He used a saw with an 18-inch bar and created a large eagle with his talons out. He painted it but did not have time to add clear coat. He didn’t win the competition but his eagle sold and he sold all the items be brought with him. He has already accepted a request to compete again this year.
Doug and Erica are history buffs and, when the opportunity arose to relocate an old summer kitchen from the Larry Davis property, they jumped at the chance. They took it apart piece-by-piece and moved it to their home on Scio Rd.
“I wanted a shop like Mooney Warther,” Ash explained. “I think this is bigger by two feet but both shops have the same wood burning stove.”
The shop is almost finished and is filled with old horseshoes and other items, including a piece of his ad copy work. Once finished, he will paint his carvings in the shop.
Ash is taking that final step and starting his own wood carving business. He has carved numerous pieces for customers and once in awhile for himself.
He created a piece with two tractors pulling against each other, even detailing the drivers to resemble two farmers he knows. He took a dow rod and used a razor knife to create chain links between the tractors and green twigs to form the steering wheels. Ash figured he had 25-30 hours in the project.
“Wood carving isn’t all done with a chainsaw,” he explained. “I spend a lot of time using chisels and knives.”
Erica bought Doug a book about antique duck decoys and he found one he loved. He created a similar carving and painted it. Then he used a checkering tool to checker the entire decoy like on a pistol grip. One of his favorite pieces, he worked 40-60 hours on the decoy, and noted, “It’s not for sale.”
Thinking of Moody Warther, he decided to carve his own set of pliers, which open and close. As luck would have it, he was helping a friend clean when they found a pair of carved pliers dated 1964.
Ash has been asked to carve on stumps and trees left standing, but prefers to cut the stump/log and carve it at his shop.
“Unless the customer specifically asks, I paint and clear coat all the carvings I do,” he stated. “This protects them and, if by chance it would get damaged, it can be fixed if its been painted and coated.”
He recently carved a turkey for the Carroll County Doublebeards auction and an item for the Harrison County Ducks Unlimited banquet.
Animals, especially dogs, are very popular along with wildlife carvings. He carved a six-foot tall angel, horse heads and more.
“I use reference pictures. There are a lot of details in the eyes,” explained Ash. “I like carving the smaller items because you can go into more detail.”
To have a customized carving completed, contact Ash at 330-787-4451 or on Facebook.