Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Girl Woodcarver

So I decided, in order to distract myself from that constant buzz in my head otherwise known as Guatemala, that I'd treat myself to a week-long class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina. Among the choices that included knitting, enameling, woodturning, cooking and blacksmithing (to name a few), I chose woodcarving. I figured that, in addition to being wildly appealing to learn how to hand carve a figure out of wood, this would be a practical skill to learn and use in Guatemala since the tools required are few and portable as well! Who knows, maybe I could even have teach a woodcarving class in my community there in Guatemala!

Well, it turns out the class was a bit advanced (which I of course realized after I signed up) and required "recent woodcarving experience". Hm. They didn't mention how much experience though, so I was, technically, in luck! On my drive south, I took the Blue Ridge Parkway because who could resist rolling smoky mountain scenery? At one of the overlooks, I pulled over and sat with a knife and a piece of black walnut wood that I'd dug out of a dusty box out of the basement. The tools belonged to my Grandmother and I was pleased to be able to put them to use across generations along the family tree. So there I sat shyly scraping away flakes of the hardened wood. I got as far as roughing out a nose and eye depressions. There! Recent woodcarving experience: check and check!

No one even asked, but I definitely was the greenest one in class. I sat on my stool and looked to either side as older men and women silently pulled out their materials, unrolling a leather satchel with many thin long pockets, each revealing the sharpened head of a differently shaped tool- knives of all sizes, gouges and who even knows what the rest were. On my other side, a confident looking man pulled out this huge lazy susan with about three times as many tools as the first guy and not only that, he gets out this professional looking leather apron (not kidding) and special carving gloves and finger bootie to protect from gouging himself (I was way too cool for such things, no comment on the fact that I may have rushed to the bathroom cupping the result of a gloveless hand while carving). I took out my little knife and put it on the table in front of me, looked around and rummaged for another kind of knife that I didn't even know the purpose of and placed it next to the first. Looked around again while the others looked busy with actual tasks and took out my piece of walnut and poked at it til the teacher started with the introductions.

I must say, though, as shaky a beginning as it was and as uncertain I was at the idea of 7 hours of carving a day for 5 days straight (would I get bored? hate it?), the week was over in a flash and I was exhilerated with my new found love! And I produced some halfway decent results! But seriously, woodcarving is a beautiful thing. I seriously would find myself grinning in anticipation at the little face as it slowly emerged out of the basswood block in my hands. By the end of the week I completed a little full-bodied pudge of a santa and two heads of woodsy woodsmen with beards and fun hats and I felt like a whole different carver than that girl up on the parkway..like, now that I've started, the possibilities are endless! Anyways, a great way to get my mind off of the wild anticipation for and obsession with Guatemala and, now that I'm home..holy crap I'm leaving in less than three weeeeeeeeeeeeks!!

1 comment:

  1. Your little gnomish guys are so cute! I'd love to see your Santa. Woodcarving is a wonderful portable craft, and wood is such wonderful stuff. It's magic. I'll be eager to see what else you do with it. If you carved some little tiny stuff, I could make necklaces out of it. . . 'course the postage from Guatemala might be a bit steep.


I'd love to hear what you think, go on ahead and slap some words down!