By Lindsay Starr Platt
A walk into the “quilting room” on Monday mornings at the Belton Senior Center is greeted by a woodsy scent and little wooden figurines displayed on tables. The Bell County Woodcarvers are busy turning trees into art.
“We are thrilled to have woodcarvers on Mondays, they have really grown since it started,” said Judy Owens, Activity Director, Belton Senior Center. “It is nice to have something worthwhile and exciting at the center.”
“We started in Ron Perry’s garage,” said Frank Turner. “We contacted Judy and she got us set up here and we are open for seniors to come learn and carve.”
Bell County Woodcarvers meet every Monday morning at the Belton Senior Center from 9-11:30 a.m. Any senior aged 55 or older is welcome to participate or observe.
“I started carving in 1998,” said Darrell Townsend. “This is the second time I have been here. I haven’t carved in over 10 years, but I am back at it again. My wife and I sold our house and traveled in an R.V. for years. In 2009 we settled here in Temple and got a house because it is close to Scott & White. This is nice being here with this group and carving again.”
The woodcarvers work on various styles of art when woodcarving. Large pieces of wood are transformed into sculptures, to tiny pieces that were carved from peach pits.
2D relief art that can be framed and hung is also carved. Basswood is the most popular medium for beginners and for experts as well. Basswood is known for its easy-to-carve qualities, cleanliness and the ability to be sanded down and painted. Other carvers are known to use up-cycled wood from old broken furniture and give it a second chance.
When Turner was asked how long he had been carving, he replied, “How long has there been pocket knives?”
Turner has been carving as an art since 1976 and whittling since he was a kid. He specializes in making belt buckles and animated 3D carvings that can move.
“I have been carving for one hour and 45 minutes,” joked Lee Newman. “I came here last week and just checked it out. I am doing this as a stress reliever. I feel like I am a kid in a sand pile with all these wood flakes around me.”
The gentlemen carving on Monday mentioned that woodcarving is not just for men and would welcome any ladies interested in the process.
A sharp carving tool is a safer tool. It is also recommended to use a thumb guard or a glove on the non-carving hand.
“I like to use stretch tape, you can pick up from a veternarian,” said Stan Jackson. “It is essential that every woodcarving kit has band-aids.”