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2008 Artistry In Wood

By Ray Kunz & Don Worley

The Dayton Carvers Guild’s 27th annual Artistry In Wood show took place November 8th and 9th, 2008. Held at the massive Dayton, Ohio International Expo Center, the opening of the show was greeted by an early, large crowd packed into the lobby, anxious to see what is arguably the nation’s largest woodcarving show. Anyone who attended before knew it would take most of the day to see the 300 booths that filled the Expo Center with the country’s finest artists and craftsmen, from 24 states and Canada.

Upon entering the hall, visitors were greeted by a totally new entrance display featuring a 30’ long curtain wall featuring large photos of selected carvings of past winners. On tables below the photos was displayed the CCA train. Attendance at the ’08 show was up about 20%, which was a bit of a surprise considering the state of the economy and the fact that attendance at other shows across the country has been in decline. In addition, exhibitors noted that sales were remarkably higher. Maybe this is just another sign that the Dayton Artistry in Wood is the top show around.


The 2008 Special Exhibit consisted of selected carvings by the prestigious members of the Caricature Carvers of America. The exhibit, which was moved to the front of the hall, included carvings that covered more than four tables. Many of the CCA members were in attendance the entire weekend and were available to talk with visitors and sign books.

The free demonstrations are a big part of the show and always so well attended that the 100 seats are almost always filled. Even people standing in the back had a good view because of the large screen video that is used for every demo. Demos on Saturday included:

  • No-Fret Scroll Sawing by Andy Chew of New Castle, IN
  • Basic Chip Carving by Bruce Nicholas, of St. Paris, OH
  • Face Sculpture by Terry Truesdell-Brasher of Petersburg, TN

Sunday demonstrations include:

  • Relief Carving for Beginners by Norbert Ploetz of Craigville, IN
  • Sculpture from a Solid Block by Chris Howard of Gatlinburg, TN
  • Sharpening Innovations by Scott Phillips, the star of the PBS Series The American Woodshop.

The competition this year was very tough, as usual. There were 366 pieces entered in woodcarving and 71 entered in woodworking. The woodcarving judges were Neil Cox from Toronto Ontario, Canada; Al Fulford of Columbus, OH; and Rick Jensen from Crookston, MN. The woodworking judges were Roger Hornung, Germantown, OH; Jim McCann, Brookville, OH; and Lary Sanders, Springfield, OH. Judging was conducted on Friday night and well into Saturday morning. This is done so that the entries can be released to the exhibitors as soon as possible and preferably before the show opened on Saturday morning.

HoodWhen the judging was completed and the results tallied, Vic Hood of Franklin, TN who was declared the Best of Show winner in woodcarving for a magnificent bust of a Victorian lady entitled “Old Lace”. Second Best of Show was won by Sandy Czajka of Troy, OH, with a carving of an exotic toucan bird entitled “It’s Not A Three Can,” and Third Best of Show was captured by Roger Strautman for a religious theme chip carving to be used as a wall hanging.

In addition to the Best of Show winners there were six special category winners:

  • The Moore Rough-out Award sponsored by Randy and Pat Moore, was divided into Human Figure and Animals. For Human Figure, Floyd Rhadigan was first and Robert Stadtlander won second and third. In the Animal section Wayne Smith won first, Sandy Czajka won second and third.
  • The Whittlin’ Jack Williams Award, sponsored by Bruce and Norma Henn, was won by Jack Williams (no relation). Second place went to Robert Stadtlander and Jim O’Harra captured third.
  • The Walter Grether Awards, sponsored by the Grether family, were awarded to Jim Willis, first place, Diane Harto, second place and Buell Burns, third.
  • The Deitz Religious Award, sponsored by Deacon Don and Shirley Dietz, was won by Edgardo Postestades, second place winner was Jeff Kowal and third was Bob Chaffee.
  • In the Other Than Wood Category, sponsored by Mulie Sheets, Rita Armstrong won first and second, and Bill Cox won third.
  • The Fox Chapel Scroll Saw Award was won by Rita Armstrong with Andy Chew second and David Griffin third.

The annual Christmas ornament contest was held on Saturday afternoon with eighteen carvers participating in full view of the visitors. The judges, Ed Gallenstein, editor of Chip Chats; Kathy Johns, Germantown, OH; and Ray Price, Beavercreek, OH, picked three winners from this group. First place went to Vic Hood, Wayne Shinlever won second and Edgardo Postestades won third.

Always looking for ideas to improve our show, this year’s show included a youth activity area where the Western Ohio Woodworkers supplied easy to assemble projects for children to build under the supervision of their parents and W.O.W. members. This venture was so popular that we intend to expand it for 2009.

What is a woodcarving show without a great banquet? Arriving hungry after a day filled with the fast-paced show, exhibitors enjoyed a delicious meal followed by the presentation of competition awards, a gigantic raffle, and the Ron Ryan Award. The top dinner raffle prize winner was John Roth of Huntsville AL, who walked away with a $500 gift certificate from Woodcraft, who has been a generous and loyal supporter of the show for many years.

One of the high points of the evening was the presentation of a $5,000 check to Bill Fry, representing United Rehabilitation Services, our charity of choice. The money is used to further the progress of helping children and adults with special needs or disabilities in the Dayton area. Artistry In Wood has been supporting a charity since the late 1980’s and URS since 1993 and has donated a total of over $100,000.

A very special part of each Artistry In Wood show is the presentation of the Ron Ryan Award. The award was established 1989 in honor of Ron Ryan who was a past Co-Chairman of A.I.W. The award is inscribed as follows: To be awarded each year at the Dayton Carvers Guild's Artistry In Wood Show to one who may or may not necessarily be an accomplished woodcarver, but one in the carving world who typifies and demonstrates the ideals and principles that Ron exemplified. The ideals of giving of oneself, expressing goodwill and exerting the extra effort needed to promote these qualities in ones own community and throughout the woodcarving world in general.

This year’s recipient of the 2008 Ron Ryan Award was a very deserving Don Mertz of Wilmington, OH. Don, a former minister, is known throughout the carving world for his fantastic miniatures and for his ability to promote woodcarving through his humor. Don’s name will be added to the long list of others that include: Ed Gallenstein 1989; Huber King ‘90; Whittlin’ Jack Williams ’91; Dick Belcher ’92; Ray Kunz ’93; Bob Wening ’94; Larry Yudis ’95; Jim Wilsford ’96; Evelyn Wening ’97; Bruce Henn ’98; Joe Wannamaker ’99; Tom Brown 2000; Don Worley ’01; Dick Motzer ’02; Wayne Barton ’03; Jack Williams ’04; Charlie Cooke ’05; Ralph Moeller ’06; and Bob Guge ‘07.

The 2009 show will be on November 14 & 15 at the Expo Center. Registration forms for exhibitors and vendors are available on the club website at . If you haven’t visited the website please do so; you will find a lot of show information and winning carving photos.

Finally, we couldn’t end this article without thanking our photographer, Jack A. Williams and his wife Carole, for doing such great work.

To visit the AIW 2008 Photo Gallery, click HERE

Copyright 2009, All rights reserved. May not be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written permission.