The Caricature Carvers of America has evolved into a well respected organization whose primary goal is to promote caricature carving. It actually began as a whimsical dare between two caricature carvers in the mid 1980's. At the North Texas Woodcarvers Guild Show, Charlie Winstead and Steve Prescott were whining that caricature carving just didn't get any respect and that what we needed was a big name national organization to promote our favorite style of carving. Charlie said we should call it the Caricature Carvers of America. He said he would put that name on his business card if I would. So, now we were officially the Caricature Carvers of America. We had no organization, no meetings, no headquarters, no dues and two unknown members. It was just a good natured dare among friends. If you have been around caricature carvers, you can understand how such a hoax could occur. Other than the business cards, there was no CCA. When asked, Charlie and I would usually joke that it was a secret society or some other elaborate wild tale. We had a lot of fun with it. Unfortunately Charlie passed away and the idea kind of died too.
I still had all those business cards with the Caricature Carvers of America printed on them when I met an Arizona caricature carver named Dave Stetson. I had to explain the CCA on my card. Dave got excited about the idea and said we really ought to do something with it. So, we started compiling a list of caricature carvers that we knew or whose work we had admired from photographs. We soon had a list of over fifty names, most of them better caricature carvers than we were. We were concerned that our limited abilities might eliminate us from such a talented group. We decided our main criteria for selection to the group would be the willingness to work to promote caricature carving and not solely carving ability. We (CCA members) have never claimed to be the best caricature carvers. There are certainly much better caricature carvers out there that are not CCA members.
Dave and I narrowed the list to about 15 that we personally knew or had the reputation of being hard workers. We sent out letters explaining what we wanted to do. The response was overwhelmingly positive. We scheduled a meeting in Fort Worth in the back workroom at Paxton's Beautiful Woods. Ten carvers, of the fifteen invited, managed to clear their busy schedules and came to Fort Worth. Everyone brought a couple of carvings to share with the group. Viewing this group of carvings was "awesome". Many of us had never seen the others work in person. Of the original members, each carver felt that they were on the bottom of the list as far as talent or ability was concerned.
From these humble beginnings the CCA was born and goals were set to promote caricature carving. We struggled for several years to form a working structure and we were definitely limited financially. It seemed like everything we wanted to do cost money. We set out to raise money to finance our goals by donating our skills to certain projects, such as the Full Moon Saloon and CCA Circus books.
I would like to point out that the CCA is a non-profit organization. No CCA member has ever received any monetary compensation from our fund raising activities. All money has been put back into promoting caricature carving. As a matter of fact, most members have spent thousands out of their own pockets to support the CCA and its goals..
When we first started the CCA, many outsiders misunderstood our purpose and thought we were just a group of snooty caricature carvers who thought they were better than everyone else. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We wanted a small group that was willing to work together. We stayed small to be able to control the organization and stay focused on our goals, not to exclude anyone. We have gradually increased our size to twenty-five members. We could have easily had a membership of hundreds, but none of us had the time required for that type commitment (dues, memberships, newsletters and communications, etc.). It's hard enough to get twenty-five unique individuals from all over the USA and Canada to meet and agree to move in the same direction, much less a membership of hundreds.
The CCA is constantly evolving and starting to achieve some success in promoting caricature carving. Look for some big changes currently being discussed in the area of membership and educational programs. Not bad for something that began as a light-hearted dare between two caricature carvers.
A complete history of the CCA and its activities
can be found on our newly updated website at www.cca-carvers.org.
Steve Prescott is a co-founder of the Caricature Carvers of America and served as its first president. The CCA has evolved into a strong influence in the carving community and it is that influence of which Steve is most proud.
Steve has been carving since 1982. He originally wanted to carve birds but couldn't find any information and instead discovered Harold Enlow's Carving Ozark Characters book. It was love at first sight. The birds were out and caricatures were in full force. The caricatures just seemed to fit Steve's personality, especially the western figures. With a hometown known as Cowtown the cowboys were a natural choice to carve. Early caricature carving influences included Harold Enlow's books and fellow Cowtown carvers, Claude Bolton and Jack Price.
Steve is a professional educator with more than twenty-five years experience in teaching biology and coaching football. It is natural that teaching woodcarving would follow. Steve began teaching caricature carving in 1987. He has taught classes in more than twenty-five states and Canada.
Steve has written two caricature carving books, Cowtown Carving and Carving BLOCKHEADS. Another book on sports caricatures should be completed in 2003.
Steve has received numerous awards in caricature carving. He has twice won the Texas Whittling Championship and has been featured carver at the International Woodcarvers Congress Show. His carvings and writings have been featured in NWCA Chip Chats, The Mallet, Wood Magazine, Art of the West, Western Horseman, Woodcarving Illustrated and other publications