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Woodcarvers show off creations

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A carving titled "The Watering Hole" by Bill Jones is on display in Payson.

A carving titled “The Watering Hole” by Bill Jones is on display in Payson.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

PAYSON — During the Revolutionary War military commanders used hand-carved, wooden whistles to summon their troops into position.

Working from an actual whistle of the period, Leonard Cleveland created a replica, then attached wheels, and it became a carving of a cannon.

That and other works by members of the Utah Valley Wood Carvers Association are on display at the Peteetneet Academy Museum.

Wood carvers have their favorite wood, including wood that has been something else.

"I'll recycle it," Cleveland said.

Other types of wood popular with the artists are bass wood, which is dense, providing good stability; Utah's mountain mahogany and scrub oak. Apricot has its place among the carvers, but carving with it takes skill because it cracks easily. Applewood and high figured maple are also popular. Aspen, rosewood and pine are also represented at the exhibition, said Bob Dailey, president of the carvers group.

Shows and exhibitions are important to the carvers, not only to display and sell their pieces, but to acquire specialty wood.

For 15 years Gene Colvin traveled to Quartzite, Ariz., to the annual rock show to sell his creations. Local carvers also exhibit in shows in Washington state, Oregon and closer to home in Utah. (The closest upcoming show is the 15th annual Great Salt Lake Woodcarvers Show and Competition on March 10-11 at Wheeler Farm, 6351 S. 900 East, Murray.)

Dailey, on the other hand, doesn't sell his carvings.

"I've got too many grandkids to give them to," he said.

While many carvers create with a series of knives and power tools — but eschew sandpaper, labeled as a crutch — a special breed uses lathes.

Cleveland is among that group. While he uses scrap wood, the harder the wood, the better, he said.

Among his pieces is a rolling pin, styled after an antique.

The detail in many of the pieces is remarkable. Among them are works representing the Wild West, wild animals, birds and a comedic carving of a horse and rider fallen through a bridge with the rider's legs holding up the dangling horse. Angels and more practical items, such as pencil holders, are also on display.

While many carvers start at about age 12, the average age in the association is around 45. Many start when they enter their retirement years. Beyond carving, the association gives members an excuse to socialize and "sit around and tell lies," Dailey said.

If you go . . .

What: Payson Sr. Citizens' Wood Carvers Exhibit

Where: Peteetneet Academy Museum, 10 S. 600 East

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Feb. 28

Cost: free

Phone: 465-5265

E-mail: rodger@desnews.com