Please tell our readers a little bit about yourself. How did you become interested in this work?
I was trained by a German woodcarver named Frederick Brunner and trained at the studio of Cascieri and diBiccari in Boston, Massachusetts. I learned both clay modeling for bronze statuary work as well as woodcarving anything from ornaments to fine art.
I got interested in woodcarving when I was in junior high school. At that time, my best friend had a summer house and an uncle who lived on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. I went down to visit them, and he said to me, “Let’s go to my uncle’s shop.” He did not tell me what his uncle did, but when we walked in, I smelled the scent of pine, saw a man carving a sign and I said, “What a wonderful way to spend the day.” I stayed there all afternoon. At the end of the week, I went home, forgot about it and went through many more years of school.
During college, I did some woodcarving as a hobby while taking my school classes. After I graduated college, I interviewed with a woodcarver and became an apprentice.
What does a woodcarver do?
I do a variety of work, from carved ornaments for colleges and public buildings to wood-carved shades for massive pipe organs found in churches to lettering work at colleges and private institutions. I also do fine art woodcarving and sculptural projects, such as carvings above fireplaces, and statuary work.
What is your favorite kind of wood to work with and why?
I like to use butternut, which is a local wood and is air dried. It is a handsome wood, carves well with a beautiful grain and is my favorite wood. That said, I do carve a lot of different woods because I often have to match existing wood in the building I am working in when I am designing. When I teach classes, I have my students carve in sugar pine because it is easy to carve for a beginner who is learning new hand carving techniques.
What is one thing you wish everyone knew about woodcarving?
I would want people to know that woodcarving can be looked at as a modern art. It is often associated with antique furniture and old folk art. Like the English language, which has been used from early American times and to the present, woodcarving can be reinvented with a newness to represent the styles of the present as well.
What is your favorite thing about your job?
I do a variety of things at my studio. That’s what I like — the variety. I really like doing different aspects of woodcarving and sculpture projects in my studio.
I like teaching and writing articles on the woodcarving and sharing the skill, given my unique training. The variety keeps me interested just like you like going to different classes in school.