Whittle Gnomes

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Whittle Gnomes

Hand carved wooden gnomes. Each measures 1"x1"x6".  

Created by our friend and colleague Amie Rawlings. 

 

     I love the scent of pine and freshly sawn wood. My father and my Grampy had woodshops of their own and their woodworking sparked a fascination in me. I grew up playing outdoors in the Aspen, Ponderosa Pine, and Blue Spruce wilderness of Colorado and watching my dad build furniture as a hobby. I would spend the summers traveling to my Grampy and Nana's home in northern West Virginia. My Grampy is a quiet man and would always be busy with a project, often whittling or woodwork of some fashion (in fact, he can still be found out in the yard cutting down a tree at the age of 83). When my Nana had cancer, my Grampy would be by her side around the clock and would keep his hands busy chip carving or whittling little ornaments and figures. Around the age of 9, I asked him if he would be willing to teach me. He handed me a pair of work gloves, a whittling knife,and a piece of basswood that he had sketched a geometric pattern on. We sat on the porch bench and he taught me the basics of carving and how to follow the grain patterns of wood. Whittling involves needing to keep a sharp edge on your knife at all times. That summer, he sent me home with two knives and an oil stone of his. 

     As a child, I found it difficult to learn how to sharpen the knives and I eventually gave up. But more than two decades later, in spring 2020, out of work because of quarantine, I returned. My wife, three dogs, and I went camping in the bottom of a canyon on a riverbed near Canyon Lands in Utah. I picked up a stick that had been chewed by a beaver and began whittling a face into it. The stick became a wizard that I stuck into the ground near a trail so that whoever chanced upon it, would take a bit of joy in this whimsy of its face. While unemployed, I kept practicing and found that gnomes and wizards seemed natural for me to whittle. It's as if each unique piece of wood calls out to me as to what it would like to become. I found that my friends all suddenly wanted a gnome of their own. Thus was born The Whittle Gnome.

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