By Jen Bakken
DELANO, MN As a young boy, Chip Sperry could be found exploring what is now known as the Lake Rebecca Park Reserve while carrying a hand-carved slingshot.
Little did he know then, that one day being a woodcarver would not only be a hobby, but a passion.
Some of Sperry’s carvings will be showcased at the 43rd Annual Woodcarving show Saturday, March 14 and Sunday, March 15 at Brookedale Shopping Mall.
Sperry grew up on a farm between Delano and Rockford and graduated from Delano High School in 1956. He is retired and currently resides in Brooklyn Center.
In 2005, he joined the Minnesota Wood Carvers Association after attending a woodcarving show at Brookdale shopping mall.
“My recent interest in carving developed as an adjunct to my hobby of styling bonsai trees,” Sperry said.
An art related to bonsai is the display of suiseki, which are decorative stones that evoke images from nature, he explained.
In order to display the stones, which often have very unique shapes, a custom stand carved from wood is needed.
It was the need for these stands to display stones with his bonsai trees that led to his interest in carving. Now, he does custom work for other stone collectors.
While collecting stones on the North Shore, he became aware of the usefulness of walking sticks.
“I now carve walking sticks from several varieties of locally available wood, including aspen and basswood, with diamond willow being my favorite,” he said. “I have sold some sticks, given others to friends, and donated some to the VA Hospital.”
He continues to hone his skills and recently began to carve wood spirit faces in the walking sticks. Some of these sticks have found homes as far away as Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and California.
While he uses palm carving tools and small power tools to create his art, he enjoys his hobby from beginning to end.
“I enjoy the creative process,” he said. “And expressing my artistic bent. It’s fulfilling to see a graceful shape emerge from a block of wood or a piece of diamond willow. I also enjoy the camaraderie of people with similar interests.”
Roger McCullough, who is the chairperson of the Minnesota Wood Carvers Association show, said he’s gotten to know Sperry through the association.
“I see he is a talented cane carver and he very much enjoys carving and sharing it with other people and the public at a carving show,” said.
Sperry will be at annual woodcarving show March 14-15
The Metro Chapter of the Minnesota Wood Carvers Association will be conducting its 43rd annual woodcarving show Saturday, March 14 from 10 a.m. to 6p.m. and Sunday, March 15 from 11 a.m. to 6p.m. at Brookdale Shopping Mall located in Brooklyn Center between Highways 100 and 152.
The purpose of the annual event is to promote artistry in wood, create public awareness and to share the ancient craft with future generations. A variety of styles will be on display, including chip, relief and caricature carving. A large range of subject matter will be featured in the carvings displayed, including birds and nature subjects, holiday, whimsical figures, and much more.
Also displayed for the second year will be hand-carved walking sticks and canes that are crafted by members and then donated to the Veterans Administrations Hospital. The public can also view examples of wooden toys and puzzles that are hand-crafted by members and then donated to the local children’s hospitals.
Exhibitors will range from those newer to the craft to experienced, award-winning carvers from the metro area and greater Minnesota. They will be available at exhibits to answer questions as well.
There is no charge to attend the show and ample parking is available.
“When you carve you see something in that wood and through planning you remove chips in ways to have a figure develope that some people can not invission is there,” McCullough said.