Bobby’s Bama: Wood carving an art from Mother Nature

Gary McDaniel is a wood carver featured in this week's Bobby's Bama.
Gary McDaniel is a wood carver featured in this week's Bobby's Bama.

DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Mention art and you might think of a painter who works with water colors or oils or a sculptor who works magic with clay.

But there is a medium that is as old as time, and Mother Nature even gives you some assistance.

Mention wood to Gary McDaniel, and his eyes light up! He can take a piece of wood - drift wood, hard or soft wood and even bark - and he can bring it to life.

He says he got started about 20 years ago.

"Friend of mine in Hot Springs was a wood carver, and he just showed me how to carve a real simple face.  That's the way I got started," said McDaniel.

He said he got "serious" about six years ago.  He took a lot of instruction from the internet and learned to put the tools to use, chiseling almost anything.

"This was one of the last faces I've done.  I probably have about four hours in this one.  And if I paint it, you add another hour and a half to two hours.  A bigger detailed carving, like this, probably got about 20 hours in that one.  And it goes up and it just depends on the size of the carving and how much detail I want to put in it," he said.

The details in the faces are so finite you can even distinguish expressions. And he even has a method that he teaches to others, taking it one step at a time, until they have the face they want.

He says mastering the shapes has a calming effect.

"It's therapy for me," he said. "You can sit down and pick up a piece of wood and start carving and you're going to forget about everything else that's going on."

He does worry that it's a dying art.  He would like to get younger artists involved, molding what they have into what they envision.

And, yes, he does sell some of his work.

"Some pieces I wouldn't part with and some my wife would claim, but even a lot of those, if somebody comes and offers me enough money, they get it," he laughed.

To come up with a masterpiece, it takes a lot of tools. Among the tools really needed: Patience. Because a masterpiece like this comes from the heart and soul in Bobby's Bama.

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