Andy Lewis of Ozark, front, practices wood burning during the 29th Southeastern Woodcarving School and Competition in the Wetumpka Civic Center Friday morning. More than 60 students were on hand Friday to learn to carve, chisel, burn, shape and smooth various cuts of wood. Photo by Peggy Blackburn
Andy Lewis of Ozark, front, practices wood burning during the 29th Southeastern Woodcarving School and Competition in the Wetumpka Civic Center Friday morning. More than 60 students were on hand Friday to learn to carve, chisel, burn, shape and smooth various cuts of wood. Photo by Peggy Blackburn

Woodcarving school shows students tools of the trade

Published 7:14am Saturday, July 12, 2014

 

The atmosphere is significantly different at this year’s Southeastern Woodcarving School and Competition. The 29th annual event is at a new location – the Wetumpka Civic Center – because of a scheduling snafu at its decade-long site in Prattville’s Doster Center.

But the chance venue change drew compliments instead of complaints from participants.

“It’s definitely cooler” … “There’s much more room” … “The lighting is better here” … were among the standard comments from attendees.

Friday morning approximately 60 students at the school were busy with a variety of tools – carving, chiseling, burning, shaping and smoothing wood to their will.

Eleven different classes were under way concurrently at stations set up around the perimeter of the civic center’s main hall.

At one of the tables where the focus was relief carving, four members of a family from Navarre, Florida were intent on their work.

“I’ve been involved with woodcarving for three years,” said Andrew McCooey. “It started because I wanted to do something with my grandpa – that’s him at the other end of the table.”

McCooey said woodcarving and the trip to the Southeastern School and Competition are now a family affair as his two brothers are also involved.

“It’s a really relaxing hobby,” said Andrew’s brother, John. “I’ve been doing it for two years now and I really enjoy it.”

Robert Christian of Tallahassee, Florida also finds the work relaxing.

“I’ve been doing this about 20 years total,” said Christian. “I worked on learning for about 10 years.

“I first got involved after reading an article in my local newspaper. I thought it would be something interesting to learn to do for my retirement. I’ve been doing it ever since and I really enjoy it. I can carve all day.”

Dylan Goodson, one of the event organizers, said teachers and students from across the Southeast attend the school each year.

“We do have something a little different this time though,” he said. “A gentleman from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, decided to come and just see what it is all about. I did encourage him to bring some of his work.”

Goodson said items entered in the competition were set up and judged Thursday evening. The central area of the civic center hall serves as a display space for the many intricate and detailed pieces created by participating carvers.

The exhibit and school will continue today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

There is no admission charge to see the display of woodcarvings and the public is invited to watch the carvers while they work.

A drawing and auction for donated woodcarvings, tools and other items which help fund the school will be held Saturday starting at 4:30 p.m. The raffle will culminate with a drawing for a 5-foot tall Christmas tree decorated entirely with hand carved ornaments made by members of the Central Alabama Woodcarvers Association.

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