Archive for June 2015

IWC 2015 Best of Show

International Woodcarvers Congress 2015 Best of Show winners:

Best of Show:  Spunk — Rick Harney

Best of Show First Run­ner-up:  Artemis — David Seagraves

Best of Show Sec­ond Run­ner-up:  Air O’Smith — Ter­ry Brasher

More casu­al pho­tos in a future edi­tion of WOM, and the pro­fes­sion­al pho­to gallery once pho­tos are available.

IWC 2015 Best of Show - Spunk by Rick Harney

IWC 2015 Best of Show — Spunk by Rick Harney

IWC 2015 Best of Show First Runner-up:  Artemis by David Seagraves

IWC 2015 Best of Show First Run­ner-up: Artemis by David Seagraves

IWC 2015 Best of Show 2nd Runner-up:  Air O'Smith by Terry Brasher

IWC 2015 Best of Show 2nd Run­ner-up: Air O’Smith by Ter­ry Brasher

Susan Alexander’s “Let’s Talk Carving” Issue 8

Susan bio shot  This Ain’t Your Grandmother’s Birdhouse!

Please refer to and fol­low all man­u­fac­tur­ers’ directions.

What I love about wood­carv­ing is that you nev­er know where it will take you – geo­graph­i­cal­ly, phys­i­cal­ly, philo­soph­i­cal­ly, or sculp­tural­ly. There will always be some­thing, around the next bend, that you nev­er could even imagine.

While attend­ing Rick Jensen’s bark pow­er carv­ing class, at Gene Webb’s School of Wood­carv­ing, I saw a carv­er, in the back row, qui­et­ly carv­ing a mon­strous piece of bark. His name was Howard L. Atwood.

Howard hails from Asheville, North Car­oli­na and has been carv­ing since 2008. His bird­hous­es have been con­sis­tent award-win­ners. One of his entries won a first prize of $1,000, plus two-nights at a bed and break­fast, includ­ing din­ner! Howard told me his bark carv­ings have been great­ly influ­enced by Carv­ing Illustrated’s 2014 Carv­er of the Year, Rick Jensen. After watch­ing Rick’s DVD, Carv­ing Mag­i­cal Tree Hous­es, Howard decid­ed to take Rick’s bark carv­ing class. That was sev­en years ago. Howard has tak­en Rick’s class every year since then.

Rick Jensen's DVD, "Carving Magical Tree Houses"

Rick Jensen’s DVD, “Carv­ing Mag­i­cal Tree Houses”

The size of the bark, used in these pho­tos, is approx­i­mate­ly 24” high by 20” deep and 18” wide. Rick Jensen glued up more than 8 indi­vid­ual pieces of bark for Howard’s birdhouse.

One of Howard Atwood's "Ultimate Birdhouse"

One of Howard Atwood’s “Ulti­mate Birdhouse”

It's those perfect circular openings that caught my attention.

It’s those per­fect cir­cu­lar open­ings that caught my attention.

The unique roof line brings your eye to the nest.

The unique roof line brings your eye to the nest.

The side view shows perfect proportions to the sculpture.

The side view shows per­fect pro­por­tions to the sculpture.

The nest shows Howard's attention to detail.

The nest shows Howard’s atten­tion to detail.

What intrigued me, beyond the beau­ty and grace of these bird­hous­es, were the per­fect­ly round open­ings. How did Howard cre­ate them with­out leav­ing that lit­tle hole in the wood that comes with a Forstner bit? Howard advised that he mod­i­fied his Forstner. First he went to his bench grinder to remove the point, and then he con­tin­ued to low­er the point until it was flush, using the two stone bits pic­tured. Good think­ing, Howard!

Modified Forstner Bits - Before and After

Mod­i­fied Forstner Bits — Before and After

High Speed Carver & Stones Used on Forstner Bits

High Speed Carv­er & Stones Used on Forstner Bits

You can view more of Howard’s carv­ings by vis­it­ing his web­site:


A quick reminder:

 2015 Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Congress
Sec­ond full week in June
Jack­son Coun­ty Fairgrounds
1212 E Quar­ry Street
Maquoke­ta, IA 52060
Ques­tions: Lar­ry Yud­is: 563.676.8264
Car­ol Yud­is: 563.505.2700

The 2015 Inter­na­tion­al Wood­carvers Con­gress is a week-long cel­e­bra­tion of the wood­carv­ing arts. Activ­i­ties dur­ing Con­gress Week include:

  • Carv­ing Com­pe­ti­tion in over 85 sep­a­rate categories
  • Open to the pub­lic wood­carv­ing show – Thurs­day through Sunday
  • Edu­ca­tion­al sem­i­nars (5‑day, 3‑day, 2‑day and 1‑day class­es avail­able) that cov­er a vari­ety of carv­ing and relat­ed sub­jects, as well as sem­i­nars for the non-carver
  • Silent Auc­tion – Sun­day afternoon
  • Mas­sage Ther­a­pist avail­able through­out the week
  • Annu­al Awards Ban­quet on Sat­ur­day evening
  • Two-Hour Judges’ Cri­tique Ses­sion – Sat­ur­day and Sun­day afternoons
  • Annu­al AWC Mem­ber­ship meeting

Hope to see you there!



Sub­ject: Carv­ing all 44 Presidents

I received the fol­low­ing email and pho­tos from Ron Karo, New York. Ron isn’t a carv­er, but he knows great carv­ings when he sees them. While trav­el­ing through Ten­nessee, he came upon two of Gene Webb’s Pres­i­den­tial bust carv­ings and knew he had to have 42 more. I couldn’t share all the pho­tos Ron sent me, but if you click on the Gene Webb’s School of Wood­carv­ing link that should be locat­ed bot­tom right of this col­umn, you can see all of 44 of the presidents.

Here is Ron’s email. 

Basi­cal­ly, I’ve nev­er met Gene. We hap­pened upon his work while dri­ving through the moun­tains on our way to Dal­las.

There we found [and pur­chased] the two orig­i­nal pres­i­den­tial carv­ings of Oba­ma and Bush Jr… Upon our return to upstate NY, we con­tact­ed Gene about carv­ing all the pres­i­dents. He agreed. Over the next two years we exchanged pho­tos, car­toons, sculp­tures and his­tor­i­cal images culled from the web and books. We used these to design the busts.  Now all are done…all 44…….one is bet­ter than the next. They are tru­ly ter­rif­ic. He [Gene] is the best carv­er alive. 

Ron Karo

Gene Webb Pres 2


Ever pick up a piece of drift wood at the water’s edge? Bet it wasn’t as large as the drift wood John Car­riere, from Aus­tralia, found on the beach dur­ing a lunchtime stroll. John’s drift­wood weighed in at over 90 lbs. Next month, I’ll share how John got the wood home (a jog­ger helped), how he treat­ed the piece and what he ulti­mate­ly decid­ed to carve.

Carvers help­ing carvers … all the way from Aus­tralia. Does it get any bet­ter than here at WOM? Really??

Until then, gen­tle read­er, may your wood be plen­ti­ful and your tools stay sharp. Take care, carve lots, and always remem­ber to smile.