By Larry Hobson
At about 11 years old, I had subscribed to “Boy’s Life” magazine and was always interested in Whittlin’ Jim’s “Neckerchief Slide of the Month”. The photos were black and white and directions were sketchy at best, but the interest was there, yet I never attempted to “whittle”.
Many years passed and on a family vacation to the Santa Cruz area in California, the carving bug struck pretty hard. Seeing all the totem poles re-ignited the fire. Upon returning from that vacation, I made a beeline to the county library and checked out some books on carving. I copied some patterns and put them aside. I acquired a book authored by Whittlin’ Jim, aka Ben Hunt, and found a simple pattern of a caricature duck. With a piece of yellow pine and a bad pocketknife, I went to work. It so happened that the duck was recognizable, so I became encouraged.
I met a man at an arts and crafts show who was carving and stopped and asked a lot of questions. He told me about basswood and where to purchase it. So after the purchase of the basswood and a band saw, the rest was history. Wrong! The next stop was Branson, Missouri at Silver Dollar City to purchase five carving gouges and a chunk of sassafras. More carving resulted from those already stored patterns and more trips to the library.
After about two years, I signed up for a carving class where we carved a two-inch farmer painted with a watercolor “wash”. Since then, I have attended classes in Houston, Waco, Fredericksburg, and War Eagle Mills in Arkansas. A large percentage of the carvings have been in basswood, with some in mahogany, butternut, sugar pine and maple. Some relief caricatures have been in white pine. Some of the carvings have been commercially available at Fischer Community Store, Sattler, and the Blanco Lavender Festival.
Carving is a lot like life; it’s a continuous adjustment. It is not a “forgiving” medium because once you cut it, it’s gone for good. Carving brings a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment with it and is a great way to spend time solitarily or with friends. The carving community is made up of a lot of people with the same passion and a willingness to share information about their experience.
Being a member of the Tejas Art Club has been rewarding due to knowing Olga Ibarra, president of the Tejas Art Club, as a guitar student first, and then as a friend and artist. Tejas Art Club is a group of active, talented, and congenial people who are most welcoming to new members.
Larry lives at the north end of Canyon Lake with his wife, Jo. He was a band director in Texas public schools for 30 years. He has played guitar in bands and church groups since he was a teenager. After retiring from public school life, he taught guitar in the New Braunfels and Canyon Lake areas for 12 years. In addition to carving and playing guitar, he and his wife like to travel and attend concerts presented by the Austin Classical Guitar Society and spend time with their 15 grandchildren.