1. How long have you been carving?
Well, I hadn’t done it in a long time, but we had an ash tree that was cut down. I hated to see that ash tree go to waste, so I asked the guy if he could cut it off at about eight feet. I wanted to make a cigar store Indian, but I only got the top half done. I didn’t know if I could do it because my back has gotten so bad, but I got some cortisone shots at St. Rita’s and that fixed me up. I am more of a painter than a wood carver. I’ve painted a lot of oil paintings for the railroad. I carved an eagle back in 1996 though. I suppose that’s where I got my start.
2. Where did you learn to carve?
I did a lot of artwork with my oil painting. I just sort of picked up carving myself. Nobody taught me. I just decided to try it.
3. What kind of tools do you use?
I use all kinds of things. Most of the work on the Indian out there I did with a 14-inch saw. I also use dremmels and chisels — lots of chisels. I went through so many of them until I found some at Harbor Freight Tools that offered a lifetime guarantee on them. Now when they get worn out, I take them in and get a new set.
4. What kind of wood do you carve? Do you have a favorite?
I carve anything I can get my hands on. I like bass wood. Maple is really nice if you can let it age. They crack if you don’t let them age enough. I’ve had to use a lot of sawdust and glue on maple I didn’t have time to age.
5. What kinds of things do you make?
Wood carving is more of a sideline thing for me. I do more paintings. I did the Indian. I also did an eagle catching a fish from the same ash tree. As I get wood, I see how it is shaped and decide what to make based on that. I have a neighbor who would like me to carve him a bear, but I have a lot of health problems at the moment. There are some days when I don’t even get out my chisel at all.
6. So, tell me about this Indian you carved?
I did the Indian last summer when it was so hot. I didn’t get him all finished though. I just did the top half. I’d like to finish his legs and put some moccasins on him. With ash, the wood gets harder to carve the longer it sits, though. What’s really neat is that when the snow melts the water lands on his cheeks, and it looks like he’s crying. It’s sort of eerie. He’s realistic enough that the kids get a kick out of him. That gives me a real kick, too.
7. Where do you get your ideas from?
It’s really neat — the wife gets on the Internet and there was a whole series of cigar store Indians. I draw ideas off of that. I get a general idea of what I want to make based on how the wood is shaped, too.
8. Have you ever hurt yourself while carving?
There’s always nicks and stuff, but I’m usually very careful. I’ve maybe hit my thumb or something, but I am safety minded. I wear gloves and am real careful. I’ve been lucky so far, I guess.