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Entering a carving competition usually involves a whole lot more than carving a competition-worthy piece. What type of wood should you use? Do you have the right size at home, or do you have to go out and buy wood? Is the competition close enough so you can deliver your carving, or do you have to search for the correct size box, gather packing material, pack it up, add postage, mail it, pray it gets there safely and then there is the cost and packing of the carving’s return trip home. All this takes time, and you haven’t even started the funnest* part yet – carving!
I certainly am not trying to dissuade you from entering any/all carving competitions; go for it, especially the 50th International Woodcarvers Congress in 2016, as well as your local carving club competitions.
… however …
I am here to offer you the opportunity of having some plain, old-fashioned, sittin’ on the back porch while the autumn leaves fall, carving FUN in the next few weeks! I’m speaking of the third annual Helvie Knives’ Handle Carving Competition, run by Rich and Holli Smithson, owners of Helvie Knives. This carving competition offers all of the fun and none of the hassle.
For $5, which includes your entry fee, Rich/Holli (probably Holli) will send you exactly what you see in the photo below – an unsharpened dummy knife with a 6 inch basswood handle and an entry form.
If your carving turns out spectacularly well, and you want it returned in lieu of allowing it to join the 170 other carved knife handles displayed at Helvie’s headquarters, then send an additional $5 when you mail off your carved knife handle and they’ll send it back to you after the competition.
Of course, there are a few rules. This is the third year of the competition, and the rules have been firmed up a bit because carvers are such a creative bunch. Basically, it’s just “carve the handle without cutting it apart or gluing any add-ons to it, and leave the blade alone.” Not sure what exactly is allowed? Go to www.Helvieknives.com website and read the rules.
I asked Holli to send me a few photos of knife handle carvings from past years so you can have an idea of what types of carvings have been done in the past….looks like everything from A to Z!
It’s great that Helvie offers three separate prize categories:
- Beginners’ Class – 1 year or less experience
- Intermediate Class – 1 to 3 years experience
- Open Class – Anyone regardless of experience
You are on your honor to enter the correct class. Carvers are an honest group of people mainly because it is a small community and we would all know if you fibbed.
To receive your Helvie blank, send $5 to:
P.O. Box 145
Tipton, IN 46072
Now, this is the important part. To get your attention, I am putting this in bold and red, typing it in capital letters, and centering the lines.
CARVING AND ENTRY FORM MUST BE RETURNED TO HELVIE
BY OCTOBER 16, 2015.
It takes a few days for the post office to deliver your check to Helvie, and then another few days to receive your blank. Turn around time for me was less than a week.
If, in the next day or two, you put a check in the mail to them, by the time you receive your blank, you should have a good two weeks to carve and finish you knife handle and get it back to Helvie by October 16. That is more than enough time for you to turn out a competition-worthy 6” carving. Sounds like a terrific carving club project to me.
I asked Holli if the metal used in the dummy knife could be sharpened, and she said, “No, but it could be used as a great butter knife.”
That cinched it! I sent Helvie a $15 check, less than the cost of a delivered pizza. For that I received two blanks ($5 each) and guaranteed return shipping ($5). My $15 investment, even if I don’t win a prize (great prizes, by the way – see below), is well worth having two really cool butter knives.
Got questions about the competition that I haven’t answered? Call Holli Smithson at Helvie Knives at 765–675-8811, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out www.helvieknives.com for additional information.
If you send me photos of your Helvie carved knife handles, I’ll run them, with your name, in the November issue. It would be great to see everyone’s carvings. You can send your photos to SusanAlexanderCarvesOnWOM@comcast.net.
Helvie will take all carving entries to the Renegade Roundup in Tennessee to be judged by CCA member, Steve Brown. Participants do not need to be in attendance to win. Winners will be notified either by phone or email – your choice.
Speaking of winning, we have to thank Larry and Carol Yudis, owners of The Woodcraft Shop (click their ad in the column to the right to go directly to their online store), for generously offering the following prizes:
- $70 Gift Certificate for First-Place in the Beginners’ Class
- $50 Gift Certificate for First-Place in the Intermediate Class
- $30 Gift Certificate for First-Place in the Open Class
Wait … there’s more.
We also have to thank Gene Webb, of Gene Webb Woodcarving (click his ad in the column to the right to go directly to their online store), for generously offering the following prizes:
- The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Beginners’ Class
- The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Intermediate Class
- The Gene Webb DVD of your choice for First-Place in the Open Class
Wait … there’s still more.
Other carvers and companies are coming on board in support of the Helvie Knife Handle Competition. Helvie has already received and will award two $25 gift certificates from Chipping Away, two roughouts from Jim Hiser, and a special carving from Don Mertz, current secretary of Caricature Carvers of America.
Wait … there’s even more!
Every first-place winner will receive a Helvie Knife of their choice. Click on the Helvie Knife logo in the column to the right to go directly to Helvie’s online store where you will see hundreds of knives made to the specifications of some of the finest carvers in the world, and available to you. Overwhelmed with which knife is best suited for your style of carving and size of your hand, or have a specific need? No problem! Speak with the owner, Rich Smithson, at 765–675-8811 and tell him I told you to call. He is accustomed to working with carvers. After asking you a few questions, Rich will be able to give you his knife recommendations. Talk about personal service! Starting this month, Helvie Knives is one of our new sponsors. Please welcome Holli and Rich Smithson to the Carvers Companion and the Let’s Talk Carving family.
Carvers helping carvers.
You Are Never Alone
So … who is standing over your shoulder, whispering into your ear? Don’t turn around. You won’t see the line of carvers who have given you the help and encouragement that made you the carver you are today, but they are all behind you. Even if you can’t see them, slow down for a moment the next time you carve and you may very well feel them, and if you are like me, hear them, as well.
At the last International Woodcarvers Congress banquet, I sat with Neil Cox, Vic Hood and Terry Brasher. When I got home and started a carving, they came to mind. Thinking about them, I felt badly that I hadn’t told them how each had influenced my carving education. Every time I reach for a V-tool, I hear Neil’s gentle voice suggesting to start with a veiner because it is easier to fix a mistake made with a veiner than a V-tool. Whenever I believe the face I’ve carved is just about done, I hear Vic Hood telling me I could go “deeper.” When I’m laying out a face, Terry Brasher is reminding me to measure my face by the size of the eyes so it will fit into the size wood I’ve chosen.
Although I thought about it during the banquet, I never told Neil, Vic or Terry, “Thank You,” but I’m doing that right now.
So, how about you? Who is standing over your shoulder? Do they know that they’ve helped you? Besides thanking them, we should be passing along their nuggets of wisdom. That’s what carving and this column is all about.
While I was thinking about adding this new feature, it just happened that, on the same day, I spoke with both Rick Jensen and Larry Yudis, so I asked them who they would thank, and why. You’ll see their responses below.
I’ve already primed the pump, but here are two more people I want to thank, with more next month, because I’ve got a thousand of ‘em.
Keith Miller, the first person who put a bench knife and a piece of basswood in my hands taught a Wednesday night carving class at The Center in Palos Park. Keith extolled the virtues of looking at a carving not only right side up, but upside down, down from the top, up from the bottom, and from both sides. After I would do a “quick” scan of my carving, hoping it would be “good enough”, he would take it from my hands and point out what this novice carver had overlooked. Yes, Keith, I remember you saying, “It isn’t done until I say it’s done.” Thank you, my friend. If not for you, this wonderful carving community would not be a large part of my life.
Rick Jensen, 2014 WCI Carver of the Year, reminds me (to this day) that it is vital to wear an apron with a front leather insert when power carving because a bit going at 40,000 RPM can grab your clothes and hurt you badly. To drive that point home, he has told me, in graphic detail, what he has seen an out-of-control bit do to a carver. Before I even sit down to carve, I look at my power carving equipment, hear Rick’s words and reach for my leather apron.
Thank you’s from:
Rick Jensen: I always think of my good friend, Harold Enlow, every time I do a demonstration. Harold taught me how to carve clean and how to impress people when I carve by using large tools to make big bold cuts. He also taught me how to hold an audience’s attention while carving by making these large dramatic cuts and telling jokes and stories.
Larry Yudis: I guess if I’d have to put into a few words how Harold Enlow influenced me it would be: Remember, it’s just a piece of wood … and, sometimes you have to improvise. That just showed me a person shouldn’t get all worked up if something isn’t turning out quite the way it was intended. Change your pattern … change your plans … improvise!
You must know what I needed to do after hearing Rick and Larry thank Harold. I had to speak with Harold Enlow.
While I probably own every Harold Enlow book, I had never met the legendary carver. I called Rick Jensen for Harold’s phone number. Took a deep breath, called Harold, introduced myself, told him about this new feature, that both Rick and Larry had chosen something he had taught them to pass on to our readers. Then I asked Harold, “Who would you want to thank and why?”
Harold told me that, without a doubt, it would be H. S. ‘Andy’ Anderson. Andy’s caricature carving book influenced Harold’s entire life, which is accurate when you remember that Harold Enlow is known as the Godfather of Modern Day Caricature Carving, written numerous books with their accompanying study sticks, is a tool maker, blacksmith, and a founding member of CCA, the Caricature Carvers of America.
I wondered if Harold and Andy had ever met. Harold said that although he was stationed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, while Andy was living in Santa Fe, unfortunately he had never had the opportunity to meet Andy, and would probably have been hesitant to talk to such a famous carver. I told Harold now he knew how I felt talking to him.
So this part of our story almost comes to an end, except … just before we hung up, Harold mentioned a photo that Don Arnett had manipulated a few years back … that included Harold and Andy.
Of course, I couldn’t let that lie. I had to contact Don Arnett. You’ve already seen Don’s wonderful, heart-warming photo at the beginning of this feature. Thank you, Don, for allowing us to share it with our readers.
So, my carving friends, this is a bit like Ancestry.com, except a carvers’ version. It was Andy Anderson’s book that influenced Harold Enlow who influenced Rick Jensen, Larry Yudis and an entire world of carvers, and, in the end, it was Andy in Don Arnett’s photo that inspired the name of this new Let’s Talk Carving feature, You Are Never Alone.
I wonder who was looking over H. S. ‘Andy’ Anderson’s shoulder.
If you have a carver or instructor you would like to thank, use the form below to send me their name, and in a few sentences what they specifically taught you that improved your carving skills and creativity.
You can send me one or numerous “Thank You” messages to be published, as space permits. They can either be for the same person or for different people. In today’s world, we can’t have too many “thank you’s” floating around out there, plus whatever it was that helped you be a better carver will now be read and help other, newer carvers.
Carvers helping carvers~
Until then, gentle reader, may your wood be plentiful and your tools stay sharp. Take care, carve lots, and always remember to smile.
*Yes. I know there is no such word as “funnest.” I made it up. It’s one of the perks of writing this column.