Wood carvers gather for annual event

PARKERSBURG – Wood carvers from near and far were part of the annual “Carving on the Porch ” event at Woodcraft on Emerson Avenue.

Saturday’s carving event featured members of the Geppetto Woodcarvers Club to demonstrate their craft. Also featured were carved circus animals, a full-sized carousel horse, a historic Indian sculpture, saloon characters and chainsaw carving.

Betty Secrist, manager of the Parkerburg Woodcraft store, said a 40-foot-long circus parade owned by Patrick and Brenda Wentzel of Parkersburg was featured.

In addition to being a member of the Geppetto Woodcarvers Club, he is a member of the Circus Model Builders, the Circus Historical Societs and is the director of the National Carousel Association. Secrist said Wentzel collected the pieces during the past 30 years.

Wentzel said his circus train is about 100 feet long, but he had 40 feet set up Saturday. He said many of his pieces are on permanent display at the Children’s Toy and Doll Museum in Marietta.

Some of horse carving were made by Charles Deck, a German carver who died in 1969.

“Most of mine are by him,” Wentzel said. “I like his style of horses. I try to collect his if I can.”

Wentzel most of Deck’s works were created in the 1950s. Overall he said his display featured works by four to five different carvers. He said the band wagons he has are based on actual wagons on display in various museums.

“I try to research all the pieces,” he said. “Many times you can tell by certain features of carvers who built it.”

Lee Reger, of Shinnston, W.Va., and a member of the Gepetto Club, said the event was designed to increase interest in wood carving.

“It’s a wonderful hobby,” he said. “Guys carving is like women and quilting bees.”

Reger said he has been carving, off and on, for 10 years and his favorite thing is character carving.

“It was a prelude to my retirement – which began 14 days ago,” he said.

Pete Miller of St. Marys said he began carving as a hobby in January.

“I’ve been leaning and one of the guys showed me how to do owls and another showed me how to do a spoon,” he said. “I’m learning and trying to do different things,” he said. “There are so many things to try I’m not sure what I want to do yet.”

Secrist said the store was able to get “The First American Woodworker,” a sculpture of an Indian sitting on a stump carving a wood pole into a spear. Secrist said it was made by sculptor Armand LaMontagne of Rhode Island from a single block of pine for the Woodcraft 50th anniversary in 1978.

Over the years, she said, it has been repaired twice. One time was while it was on display at a store in Massachusetts. There was some blasting for a construction project nearby and it sent a rock through the ceiling of the store that broke off a hand and broke a leg of the statue. LaMontagne made the repairs. In 1988 the knife disappeared and LaMontagne made a new knife.

Secrist said the sculpture is on display at the company headquarters and is rarely moved for public display.