By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Members of a wood carvers group are the Carroll County Arts Center featured artists for June.
Everything from animal and scenic carvings to bowls, toys and statues will be on display during the month of June. Several wood carvers demonstrated their craft and displayed their wares during a reception June 2.
Ken Grigsby was always a woodworker but did not start carving until retirement. His wife purchased a two-day class in relief carving with Bob Stadtlander for his birthday in 2010 and he has yet to stop carving.
Grigsby specializes in scenic relief carving in which life and depth are brought to a carving that is essentially two-dimensional. He also ventures into carving “in the round” and pyrography (wood burning) scenic art. He works from photographs to create carvings.
Grigsby fills in as leader of the wood carving group at the Arts Center. Once he started carving, people told him they wished they could do that. Working with carvers from Canton, they began meeting in Carrollton. The group meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Arts Center.
“We have a few tools people can use during the meeting if they are just getting started,” Grigsby said. “We can get them going in the right direction.”
Grigsby attends several shows, such as the Algonquin Mill Festival in Petersburg, Tuscarawas County Arts Guild, SauderVillage, Oglebay Park Woodcarving Show and the North Carolina Woodcarving Festival in Raleigh, NC.
He received an Award of Merit in Woodcarving in 2014 and Best of Show in 2015 at Sauder Village, first and second places in Relief Carving in North Carolina, Honorable Mention and People’s Choice at the 2015 Algonquin Mill Festival and Honorable Mention at the 2017 Fall Art Show at the Tuscarawas County Art Guild.
Grigsby enjoys trying new carving challenges, as well as sharing his skills with others interested in carving.
The high school wood shop was where two woodworkers got their start. Dave Wells of Carrollton and Dick Byrd of Malvern continued working with wood in retirement.
Wells, who taught wood shop for 35 years, is a wood turner. He uses a lathe to make a wide variety of items, such as wooden eggs (some containing up to 105 pieces) and a life-size wearable cowboy hat.
For a life-size cowboy hat, Wells starts with a 75 lb. piece of green lumber that is turned down to 14-15 ounces. He has made three of these. He also makes miniature hats from an eight-inch limb. He made a vase which holds water and a platter, both covered with a sealer made to be used.
Wells is president of the Buckeye Woodworkers & Woodturners group from Canton and works with the Arts Center group.
Byrd’s creative talent started in a high school wood shop class over 50 years ago. He began selling woodcrafts about 18 years ago at the Atwood Fall Festival. He made free-standing hutches, shelves, corner cupboards, side tables and bookcases, along with smaller items. As they reached retirement, Dick and his wife, Linda, realized lugging heavy bookcases and cupboards was becoming a chore. Byrd began making smaller items such as bandsaw boxes, cheese slicers, cutting boards, wine racks and wooden bowls.
To make a nine-inch bowl, Byrd begins by gluing various pieces of different woods together. He uses a digital caliper to measure because he is working in “thousandths” measurements and if one piece is off, so is the pattern of the bowl.
He said it takes between three to four hours to build a bowl. The pieces are glued to create a 21-inch board which is cut into triangles, glued into a square and then cut into rings to create the bowl.
Byrd has fun creating items and only began making bowls three years ago.
Woodworking is a hobby for Travis Weyand of Carrollton. He is a GED instructor for Carroll County Family and Children First Council’s program.
He builds bulldozers, construction toys, trucks and skid steers. He recently added bunk beds and picnic tables for use with American Girl dolls.
Travis and wife, Heather, purchased her parent’s home about 15 years ago. His father-in-law and father were both woodworkers. His father-in-law had a full-size wood shop attached to the house and left all the tools for Weyand. Around eight years ago, he picked up some of those tools and began tinkering. Tinkering blossomed into after-work and weekends and soon people began ordering items from him.
He created baseball shelves, cabinets and clocks. All he needs is a picture and to know what size the customer wants and he can build just about anything. One advantage he has is if he needs a tool and doesn’t have it, either his father-in-law does or knows where he can get one.
He also makes yard games, such as Jenga, backyard dice and Molkky, a Finnish throwing game, where competitors use a wooden pin to knock over numbered wooden pins to try to get a perfect score of 50.
“Woodworking has become a way to relax and decompress after a day in the classroom and to keep my fingers nimble,” Weyand said. “I enjoy turning the radio on and losing myself in the woodworking world.”
Other carvers demonstrating their craft included Dan Ebner, Burl Price and Doug Ash.
Ebner was carving a Santa figurine. Ash carves with a chainsaw and knives. Price carves pieces but does not sell them. He gives them to family members. After the first day of carving, Price said he was so relaxed.
“I started carving about 6 years ago in Texas at a campground. A good friend of mine talked me into going with him to a woodcarving class,” Price explained. “I only wish I would have started carving earlier in my life. The camaraderie between the woodcarvers is what I enjoy the most!”
New carver Barb Plunket saw a flyer about the wood carving class and stopped by. They made her feel welcome and started carving. She is working on her first project, a spoon from a pattern Price made.
The woodworkers all help each other and agree they all enjoy the hobby. They each have their favorite type of wood to work with but all use a variety, such as cherry, walnut, soft maple, basswood or purpleheart.
Anyone interested in stopping by during the woodcarvers group, can call the Arts Center at 330-627-3739 to check for correct dates.
The Carroll County Arts Center is located at 204 W. Main St., Carrollton. Hours of operation are Tuesday and Friday, 10:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.; Thursday 1-6 p.m.; and Saturday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and closed Wednesday and Sunday.