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Hoosier Carvers

Jennings County hobbyists
come together in the ‘Hoosier Carvers’

Group includes members from several counties

By Michella Marino
Contributing Writer

(January 2006) – Almost everyone has a hobby, and people’s hobbies range from stamp collecting to reading to sporting activities to painting to about anything you can imagine. Unfortunately, many people participate in their hobbies by themselves.

Jack Baxley

Photo provided

Jack Baxley of Seymour meets with the wood
carving group each month
to learn and share new methods and techniques.

This is not the case, however, for the Hoosier Carvers. Hoosier Carvers is a group of southern Indiana wood carvers ranging in age from 14 to 92 but bound by their enjoyment of woodcarving.
Hoosier Carvers was founded on Oct. 8, 1976, and today consists of 33 members from southern Indiana. The group meets on the second Monday of every month at the Donner Center, 22nd and Pearl streets in Columbus, Ind. Pat Dodge of Columbus serves as the group’s president.
The group participates in various methods of woodwork, such as woodcarving, wood burning, chip carving, burning with scalpel and relief work. During each Hoosier Carvers meeting, a new lesson on woodcarving is held. The group is purely a hobby club and not a commercial group, but members of the group do sell their items at various shows.
Hoosier Carvers also hold their own show on the first Saturday of November every year. People travel from all over Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Kentucky to visit their show. They offer various prizes and ribbons for the woodworking that is displayed and sold.
Dodge became interested in woodcarving as a small child. Her grandfather carved and would make her various toys, such as slingshots and whistles. During her childhood, woodcarving was not seen as a girl’s hobby, so Dodge would have to sneak around to get a knife so she could carve on her own. Dodge claims that despite her long history with woodcarving, she’s still not very good at it, but is “in it to learn.” She recently designed and carved a hillbilly chess set but generally makes items like walking sticks and wood spirits. She has also carved wooden spoons, which she claimed the term “spooning” originates from.
According to Dodge, “spooning” is a Scandinavian term that comes from wooden love spoons. A long time ago, men would carve a wooden spoon and give one part to his sweetheart prior to his departure from his loved one and keep the other half with him. The love spoon ensured his safe return.
Jack Baxley of Seymour, Ind., is another member of Hoosier Carvers, but his interest in carving isn’t as deep rooted as Dodge’s. Baxley has always been interested in art but has only been carving for a decade. He has been a part of the group for the last four years. Baxley became involved in woodcarving when he saw the woodwork of a local man. He admired his work but felt it was priced too high. Due to his interest in art, he decided he wanted to take woodcarving lessons. He convinced the local man to give him lessons, and Baxley has continued carving ever since.
Power tool carving is another method of woodcarving and is Baxley’s method of choice. “The old timers frown upon it” and give him some grief because it’s considered to be a newer method and doesn’t involve the use of a chisel or knife, he said. Although Baxley prefers to do power tool carving, he has done other methods in the past “just to prove he could do it to the other guys.”
Waterfowl carvings are his specialty, particularly birds and ducks. Baxley combines two art forms by carving his pieces and also hand painting them. He said his goal with waterfowl carvings is to get them to “look as realistic as possible.” His last big piece was a carving of a red tail hawk, which he described as “a good size bird.”
Baxley uses a specific type of wood that is ideal for bird carving. It is called tupelo wood and is found in swamps along the Gulf Coast. Tupelo wood is a softer wood, which makes it ideal for this type of woodcarvings. Baxley obtains his tupelo wood from a vendor outside of New Orleans, but there are various wood vendors in the country.
Both Baxley and Dodge consider wood carving a side hobby. He has sold pieces of his work in the past, but he doesn’t market his work. He enjoys doing various carvings to leave for his children and family.

• Hoosier Carvers is always looking for new members and welcomes anyone to attend meetings. For more information, call Pat Dodge at (812) 376-6891 or Janeo Shannon at (812) 376-3312.

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