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I entered the world of woodcarving in 1970, with the help of a family friend, Smokey Joe Briemuiller. He was one of those characters who fascinated me as a child. He carved small animals, Indians and Hill People. He had the aroma of wood and cigar smoke about him.
Smokey Joe showed me the basics- how to make a pattern, how to cut out a blank on a band saw, and how to make a knife from a straight razor, the most important how to was to keep that knife sharp. I used that knife and a box of patterns, and began to carve as much as I could. In those early days, there were very few tools on the market. A person could find full size mallet tools but little else. So I relied on my homemade carving knife.
In 1973, I bought my first carving book, “HOW TO CARVE CHARACTERS IN WOOD” by H.S. “Andy” Anderson. This really opened my eyes to the type of carver I wanted to become. I carved every project in the book. This made me thirst for more.
Then Harold Enlow came into my life, with his book “CARVING FIGURE CARICATURES in the OZARK STYLE.” I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Harold not only carved the way I wanted to learn, but he also introduced me to palm tools. They were what was missing!
Harold came out with more books, each as exciting as the first. I carved every idea in his books. I started to develop my own style, a mix between Ozark and Flat Plane Scandinavian carving.
I began to teach my style of carving in 1976 for the city of Mt. Clemens, MI Adult Education Program. I moved to Warren, MI and started to teach for the Warren Parks & Rec. Dept. In 1991, I moved to Saline, MI where I started teaching a weekly class and began participating in wood carving shows around the state, As my work became known, my teaching increased. I started to teach at the two major woodcarving seminars in Michigan, “Creative Woodcarving Seminar” in Cadillac, MI (which I now run) and the MWCA (Michigan Wood Carvers Association) in Midland, MI. I now instruct annually at the Wood Carvers Round Up, in Evert, MI and the North East Carvers Round Up, in Honesdale, PA. I was honored to teach in Twin Falls, Idaho, with the CCA. I am excited about returning in May.
Wood Carving has opened many doors for me and I have met the greatest people in the world. I had the honor to win Best of Show in the 2005 CCA Carving Competition. The biggest honor in my career was to become a member of the club all my heroes belong to, the Caricature Carvers of America.
I have a lot more to learn on this journey. May we meet and carve together along the way.