Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"I'm just following my genes?"

Two weeks ago I picked up a small wooden horse at my sister's house and said to myself, I can do this.

I think wooden horses or birds would look good beside my log cabin birdhouses and carving a few wouldn't cost me more than a bit of time sitting in a rocker on my front porch. I already have a set of carving knives, purchased on sale over five years ago. At the time of purchase I was likely following some kind of urge.

A great-great uncle from my hometown, Norwich, was a carver of decoys and according to the London author of a book about well-known carvers (R. Paul Briscoe - 'Waterfowl Decoys of Southwestern Ontario: And the Men Who Made Them') a matching pair of Hank Catton's decoys can now sell for about $20,000.

Decoys aren't for me, though I do admire the two I have (not matching). They are incredible pieces of folk art, in my mind, and the fact that one is riddled with buckshot makes me happy to see that such things survive in one piece for over 100 years or more.

["This one (carved in the teens, e.g., 1915) appears in Paul Briscoe's book"]

I think for starters I will try something simple, e.g., small birds with a quirky smile, perhaps busy checking a compass ("Which way is North?"), or horses with manes and tails made from fishing line. I suppose if I sit and whittle in a rocking chair (especially the one another uncle made in his Norwich workshop) I will indeed feel I am simply following my genes.

Whittle on.

Photos by GH


Do you whittle or carve?

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