Area residents carve out a passion for their hobby

April 08, 2002|By STACEY DANZUSO

Patience and a sharp knife are the key to a successful woodcarving hobby, the president of the Cumberland Valley Woodcarvers said.

About 20 members of the group displayed their hard work during a show this weekend at the Chambersburg Mall.

From the most detailed fish, ducks and birds to carved faces and canes, mall patrons admired the talent of local woodcarvers.

The group first met in January 1988, with 11 members, according to Rita Johns, treasurer and a founding member.

Now there are about 40 members from Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia who meet monthly at the Scotland Community Center in Scotland, Pa.


"The population is getting older. When you retire you have to have something to do," said Ray Reedy, president. "It keeps our hands and minds busy."

He first became interested in woodcarving as a Scoutmaster nearly 50 years ago.

Johns said she and her husband, Nick, picked up the hobby following a serious car accident.

"I gave him a block of wood to do something with. When I saw it, I thought 'I could do that,'" she said.

The group has a variety of ages and experience levels. Each year it puts on a show for the public.

"It's to let the general public know this goes on, and it is an outlet for the people who do it to get some praise," Reedy said.

Mall patrons were invited to participate in demonstrations, too.

Reedy said a seventh-grade boy spent hours Saturday working on a carving.

"The boy came in at 11 a.m. and didn't leave until 3:30 p.m. He just loved it and was doing a good job," he said.

Reedy said depending on the intricacy of a project, it can take hours or even months to finish it.

"Some make it look so easy," he said.

Gene Snider builds elaborate wood trucks -- some about 2 feet long -- and donates them to Franklin County's chapter of Habitat for Humanity to auction. One brought in $2,800, another $5,000, he said.

Robert Williams of Newville, Pa., said he has taken third place twice in a world woodcarving competition in Ocean City, Md. His work usually revolves around aquatic scenes, including the one he will display at this month's competition.

Thomas and Claire Primo, of Fayetteville, Pa., came to the mall specifically for the show Sunday afternoon.

"We're novices and have just been to one meeting," Claire Primo said. She said the couple became interested in woodcarving shortly before moving recently from Cape Cod, Mass., to Fayetteville.

Both enjoy carving birds, though Claire prefers Canada geese and robins while Thomas works on shore birds.

Jim Cullers of Chambersburg said he picked up woodcarving about three years ago from a friend from church who belongs to the club.

"The more he talked about it, the more excited I got," said Cullers, now a club member. "I found that I could be creative."

The group's monthly meetings allow members to exchange ideas and methods and offer guidance. Some months there are guest speakers, but there is always a show-and-tell time.

The group will not meet in April, but will hold its next meeting May 5 at 1:30 p.m. For more information, write to Cumberland Valley Woodcarvers, Attn: Rita Johns, 17247 Junkin Road, Spring Run, PA 17262, or call Johns at 1-717-349-7403.

A group of Hagerstown-area woodcarvers also meets Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. at the Beverly Center. For details, contact Reedy at 301-739-1985.

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