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By B. Scott Mohr
The stunning craftsmanship of woodcarvers from the Midwest will be displayed during Saturday’s Woodcarving Magic Show & Sale in Franklin.
Duncan Fugate, president of the Indianapolis Circle City Carvers, said visitors to the Franklin Cultural Arts and Recreation Center, 390 Branigin Blvd., will see carvings from beginners to professionals. At least 50 artisans are expected to showcase their handiwork; some will demonstrate it.
As opposed to carvers who employ power tools, Fugate prefers to use hand tools such a hammer, a chisel, a gouge, a knife and finishing utensils to create mythological figurines such as dragons and gargoyles.
The craft, he said, is divided into three categories: carving in the round (mostly statues), relief carving (a block or board is used and the carver works his way up) and chip carving, which is done on a flat surface and features geometric and intricate shapes; it can be complex.
Some works are left their original color, others feature striking paint schemes.
Choosing the appropriate wood can depend on many factors. Is the wood soft enough to cut easily with a chip-carving knife, or are a chisel and mallet needed? Will it have a natural finish that shows the grain, or will it be painted?
Some carvers choose interestingly shaped sticks or logs, but a freshly cut log can present problems since it contains a great deal of moisture. If the log dries too quickly, it may crack badly. It is best to let the log air dry until reaching an acceptable level of moisture content to prevent unwanted cracking.
The alternative is to purchase kiln-dried wood that has been cut into boards.
For carving ducks, shorebird decoys and similar figurines, basswood is an excellent choice because it is soft and easy to work with. The close grain holds small carved details, and there are few knots or blemishes. However, the wood’s softness makes it difficult to apply a stain evenly on carved surfaces or attain a glossy finish. Most basswood carvings are painted.
For sculptures with a natural wood finish, walnut, mahogany or cherry provide rich color with an attractive grain pattern. All are moderately difficult to carve because of their dense grain. For fine work, sycamore maple, apple, pear and plum are usually chosen.
The show is being sponsored by the Franklin Chipmates, Circle City Carvers and Columbus Hoosier Carvers. The free event, which runs from 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m., will also feature People’s Choice and Best in Table awards, the latter of which is new. In addition, vendors will sell tools, supplies and wood. People interested in being exhibitors should call Sharon Hood at 346-1192.
The Circle City group meets at 6:30 p.m. the third Monday of each month at Southeastern Christian Fellowship Church, 4751 E. Minnesota St., where guests are always welcome.