Saturday, December 14 brings the world of woodcarving to the Maine State Museum as members of the Maine Wood Carvers Association gather to show and share their skills and artistry.

Visitors of all ages will see carvers demonstrate whittling, carving “in the round,” relief carving, intarsia, and cutting out a pattern using a variety of materials. Visitors will also have an opportunity to get involved, with hands-on instruction in the use of carving knives, gouges, spokeshaves, and drawknives. Kids will be able to try their hands at soap carving. All materials, tools, and safety equipment will be provided. The event, which runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., is free of charge, as is museum admission for the day.

Carvers will have their finished works on display. Sales are not permitted, but some carvings may be available for sale after the event. The following carvers and their work will be featured throughout the day:

  • Gordon Harde – duck decoy carving demonstration
  • Kathy Webster – use of draw knives to carve a ¾ size loon
  • Art Chamberlin – work with visitors to carve a Santa face ornament
  • Vicki Fox – demonstration of carving flowers and faces in relief
  • Bob Perry – demonstration of carving Kris Kringle and other faces
  • Gary Sainio – demonstration of working with cottonwood bark, an easy-to-carve material that’s great for newcomers
  • Norm Devonshire – work on an eagle head cane topper, or maybe a grizzly bear
  • Jim Irish – cutting out a pattern on a scroll saw; work on intarsia and ornaments
  • Chuck Perry – carving a small horse “in the round”
  • James McCain  – carving a 1/3 size carousel horse
  • Dick Shryock – carving decorations on carousels
  • Jonathan Leach – use of a spokeshave and hook knives to shape a spoon; demonstration of carving a sea turtle out of AZEK (a PVC material that is easier than wood to shape); work on whale and dolphin half-mounts

This special look at wood carving and wood carvers is a natural fit for the Maine State Museum. Wood carving in Maine has served as both form and function throughout Maine’s history. Exhibits throughout the museum, such as “Shipbuilding” and “Made in Maine,” show the functional aspects of wood carving trades in Maine’s past, from the tools in the ship carpenter’s toolbox to the draw knives in the gunsmith’s shop and the gouges and chisels in the furniture maker’s shop.

The work of other wood carvers, inspired by practical needs, also stands out around the museum. Utensils, cups, and toys, created by people of all ages using basic tools and techniques, met needs around home. Spruce gum boxes, like those above, were carved and decorated by loggers and others to hold spruce gum. Duck decoys, bridging the gap between functional and artistic carving, show the work of carvers who shaped the body of the bird to true size and form, then painted the finished carving to mirror the bird’s appearance in real life.

Contemporary wood carvers in Maine include figurative artists, abstract sculptors, wildlife carvers, folk artists, and craftspeople. Some are self-taught. Some have studied with masters, while others are following traditions or finding new paths. They are all united in their work to carve creations from wood – something that humans have been doing for thousands and thousands of years.

More information about the Maine Wood Carvers Association can be found at: https://www.mainewoodcarvers.com/

Maine State Museum