Boat carvings

Carrollton crafter whittles away
the hours with scrap wood

A steamboat ride led to Wallace’s
fascination with the replicas

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (April 2009) – When David Wallace took a ride on the Belle of Louisville, the boat’s paddlewheels caught his attention as they slowly churned water. Thinking to himself, “I could make some miniature paddlewheel boats out of scrap wood,” Wallace went home and got right to work on the project.
At a neighbor’s suggestion that he display the finished paddlewheel boat replicas he had made, he targeted the downtown area of Carrollton. The fruit of his labors have been showcased at the Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism and Convention Commission at 515 Highland Ave.

Wallace's paddlewheelers

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

David Wallace spends many hours
carving details into his wooden
creations. He was inspired by the
Belle of Louisville to try his hand at
re-creating miniature paddlewheelers.

Wallace, 67, has crafted walking sticks, smoking pipes, birdhouses and cars out of wood, just to name a few of his creations. He used to make larger pieces, such as gun cabinets, but now focuses on smaller wooden items that do not take quite as long to build.
For the last two winters, Wallace has whittled away long, cold hours by crafting magnificent, lifelike works of art from ordinary pieces of wood. Extremely modest about what he does, his work is anything but ordinary.
Neighbor Jimmy Supplee, 62, was raised on the same street in downtown Carrollton that he now lives on next to Wallace. “This is a close-knit neighborhood,” said Supplee of the Main Street area. Supplee he has marveled at Wallace’s creations for some time.
“He does all of his work by hand,” preferring to use old tools instead of more modern, efficient ones, said Supplee. Wallace’s creativity runs in all directions. “He took wood from the Ohio River behind my house and made a marlin fish.”

David Wallace

David Wallace

Perhaps it is the river that inspires Wallace to reproduce his paddlewheel boats and fish, using pine scrap wood for many of his creations. Some of his walking sticks have been crafted from “apple trees that were cut down in my neighbor’s yard,” he said. He then embellished the wood by whittling fanciful birds on the sticks.
Even though his work has caught the eye of many admirers, Wallace said he has no plans to set up his work for sale any where soon because “it takes too long to make each piece.” Wallace plans to display his hand-detailed work at the tourism office again in the near future.

Wallace steamboat

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

This closeup shows the detail of
David Wallace's work on a steamboat.

For now, his creations are just a hobby for Wallace but could easily become more than that if time allowed. His boats have tiny working, moveable parts and can be lit up.
“His work is amazing. It is so very detailed,” said Carrollton-Carroll County Tourism Director Rhonda Crutcher. Like many other local artists, she believes Wallace has a gift that “it would be a shame not to showcase.”
Crutcher is in the planning stages of deciding what exhibits she will stage next year at the tourism office. “There are a lot of talented people in this area,” she said.
She is thinking of displaying Wallace’s paddlewheelers again next spring “When you think of boats, you think of the spring and summer months,” she said.
And when many Carroll County residents think of paddlewheelers, they will think of Wallace.

Back to April 2009 Articles.



Copyright 1999-2015, Kentuckiana Publishing, Inc.

Pick-Up Locations Subscribe Staff Advertise Contact Submit A Story Our Advertisers Columnists Archive Area Links Area Events Search our Site Home Monthly Articles Calendar of Events Kentucky Speedway Madison Chautauqua Madison Ribberfest Madison Regatta