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There are few requirements for joining the new woodcarvers group at Lake Tomahawk in the Lakeview Clubhouse.  You have to want to learn how to carve or carve better. You have have to like to talk and share information. And you have to show up. It meets noon-3 p.m. every Monday. And it's free.

Eddie Wacaser has been carving for 34 years. Sue Hitchcock is a novice who wants to learn to carve.  Bill Ispin, who moved from New York, is retired and always wanted to learn to carve.  Jim Kilpatrick brings 25 years of experience to the group and can best be described as a folk art carver.

“We welcome all levels of carving experience,” Wacaser said.  “We learn from each other as we share what we are working on.  It is a free carving experience and always enjoyable.”

Wacaser, 54, was born with Arthrogryposis which makes his joints nonflexible and his hands and feet curved.  But the disability has not stopped him from becoming a woodcarver and a photographer.

“I have been doing relief carving for 35 years, which really means carving pictures in wood,” Wacaser said.  “The process of relief carving involves removing wood from a flat wood panel in a way that an object appears to rise out of the wood.  Relief carving begins with putting a design on paper, making a master pattern and then transferring it to a wood surface.  Most relief carving is done with hand tools like chisels and gouges.  Much of the skill required for relief carving lies in learning to grip and manipulate tools to get the desired effect.  I have no problem using my curved hands to carve.”

Wacaser became interested in wood carving in high school.  He watched his shop teacher carve and then, in 1981,bought a cheap set of hand carving tools .  His first carving was a wooden spoon. Today he sells his carvings on Craigslist, eBay, Facebook and by word of mouth.  Prices range from $30 to $150.  Most of his carvings take from two weeks to three months to finish.

“I started the woodcarvers meetings to enjoy the company of other carvers and to share what I know, and learn from others,” he said.  “You not only learn carving techniques but different woods as well.  Numerous woods are used in carving like basswood, butternut, walnut, mahogany, birch and willow.”

Kilpatrick advised novice carvers to be patient. The carving he calls “Old man and his dogs coon hunting” has about 40 hours in it, and puts him in the category of folk art carver.

“It takes a lifetime to become a carver,” Kilpatrick said.  “That is what makes it so much fun and rewarding.”

Wacaser advises those learning how to carve to not be too hard on themselves. “You learn from your mistakes, and you can’t be too critical of your own work,” he said.

Kilpatrick said that carvers need to be willing to spend about $100 for a good set of carving tools.  Ispin was lucky and found his set of carving tools at a yard sale for $10.

“They need sharpening,” he said.

For more about the woodcarvers meeting, contact Wacaser at 669-6079.

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