Worker Finds Creative Niche With Hobby
September 25, 2009
- "I got a few books and kept practicing. Other carvers have helped me and showed me things along the way."
- "I make toys, animals and people," he said, laughing. "I also make some firewood, too."
- "I can't even draw a stick figure, but I can take a piece of wood and make something," he said.
- He has been attending carving shows in the area for quite some time, but has only ventured to enter his own work in a show this summer.
David Wilson had been looking for a creative outlet for many years. He had tried different hobbies, but nothing stuck. Four years ago, however, he found his art form inside a chunk of wood. He's been carving ever since.
"I had a friend that was a carver. He gave me a tool catalogue and told me to order a few things. He said he would teach me a few things in a week or so. But then he took a job as a tour bus driver," Wilson, a property administrator in the Garrison's Directorate of Logistics maintenance division, said. "It was three years before I saw him again. So, I got a few books and kept practicing. Other carvers have helped me and showed me things along the way."
After four years, Wilson said he is still a beginner. His carving is still a learning process of trial and error.
"I make toys, animals and people," he said, laughing. "I also make some firewood, too."
It is a process he has come to love. He has set up a small shop at his home, where he spends hours in the relaxing pursuit of taking tool to wood. He has found that he most enjoys crafting caricatures and faces.
"I can't even draw a stick figure, but I can take a piece of wood and make something," he said. "It's relaxing and satisfying at the same time."
He also likes creating castles out of driftwood, Cyprus knees, cottonwood and basswood. The softer nature of his preferred woods allows for greater detail, but can also create great frustration.
"Cottonwood can flake. You find bad spots or hard spots in the driftwood," he said. "If you take too much off, it's gone. But if I mess up, I can just turn it into something different."
Safety is an issue for a hobby that involves using razor-sharp tools to slice into wood. Wilson said it is a lesson he only had to learn once.
"I have cut myself, but it's been a long time," he said. "I wear a Kevlar glove and a thumb guard on my knife hand in case it slips. The idea is to carve to the wood and not the carver."
Wilson recently has taken his projects out of the shop and into the community. He has been working with the Artists Responding to Students group in Guntersville to teach kids about woodcarving. His next visit with them is planned for spring.
"I give them bars of ivory soap and a popsicle stick tool so that they can carve something," he said. "The soap is great because it forces them to go slow and be careful. If they go too fast or too hard it crumbles."
He has been attending carving shows in the area for quite some time, but has only ventured to enter his own work in a show this summer. Wilson entered a competition at Redstone's Arts & Crafts Center and took home three ribbons in the wood category - two honorable mentions and a second-place finish.
"I lost to a 7-foot-tall burled walnut grandfather clock," he said. "You can't compete with that."
He looks forward to the 27th annual Mid South Woodcarving Show and Competition scheduled Nov. 8-9 at the Huntsville Roundhouse Depot. Wilson plans to have a display of his own there and be a part of the competition.
"It's a huge show," he said. "There is a large carving community out there."
Wilson has been working at the Garrison for close to 22 years. When he does a little traveling, he has put together a portable woodcarving bench so he can take his hobby with him -- unless, of course, he has to fly. A bag of strange knives wouldn't make it through security.
"I only take my tools when I'm driving," Wilson said, laughing. "I don't even try at the airport."