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February 11, 2014 > Carve your cares away

Carve your cares away

By Mauricio Segura

Each one of us has the ability to create beautiful things. Even if you think you lack creativity, talent, or vision, surprise yourself by visiting the Fremont Wood Carvers Group (FWCG). Imagine being able to turn an ordinary block of firewood into an intricately carved eagle majestically perched on a branch, or a beautiful life-size cat to adorn your mantle. Anyone from 10 to 100 years old, from beginner to expert, can learn to carve amazing things out of wood.

FWCG opens its doors open every Wednesday night for those who want to participate in this time-honored craft. As coordinator Vance Hill proclaims, ÒEveryone is invited regardless of age. You don't have to have the tools or the knowhow to begin, just the willingness to try something new and discover your potential.Ó

Begun approximately 25 years ago with a simple newspaper ad, FWCG has been enjoyed a steady stream of members at their weekly gatherings, but are always are willing to welcome others. They work with wood of all kinds and shapes, sometimes bought, sometimes found, but always transformed into art. No large power tools are used, just simple chisels and files combined with imagination and practice.

This is not a traditional class, but rather a group that is inspired by each otherÕs expertise. ÒWe learn from each other,Ó says Hill. ÒWe all work on our own individual projects, but those with more experience are always there to help out and pass on the knowledge to the less experienced. We all grow and benefit as a group, while at the same time enjoy each otherÕs company and have a lot of fun in the process. Beginners need not buy tools or a bunch of wood before they come. They just need to bring themselves. We'll start them off with a small piece and show them the basics. Anyone can do it. Once they get the hang of it and want to move on, they can purchase their own tools in time.Ó

ÒWood carving is therapeutic; you lose yourself in your work and carve your cares away,Ó says Kathy O'Hare who is working on her third life-size carousel horse. And as an added bonus, friendships are made and times shared beyond wood carving, though they are always rooted in the common art. Jack Tornio, who has carved countless works including an inspiring sculpture of the famous WW2 scene of soldiers raising the U.S. flag in Iwo Jima, adds, ÒThe best thing about this is everyone getting together and having a good time. We sometimes just sit, talk, and laugh for hours.Ó

There is no need to possess the talent of Michelangelo or be of a young age to take part. ÒWhen I started my first horse, I had no clue what I was doing,Ó says O'Hare. ÒI just knew that I wanted a carousel horse more than anything, and I made it.Ó George Darragan, who still considers himself a ÒnewbieÓ though you couldn't tell by looking at the beautiful Mexican village scene he's carving out of a wood block, said, ÒMy first piece was a scene from my village in Michoacan, Mexico. My compadre looked at it and said, Ôhey that's our village!Õ It was then that I knew I was doing it right.Ó

This summer, the Fremont Wood Carvers Group will have a booth at the Alameda County Fair. Patrons will be able to vote for their favorite item and winners will receive commemorative ribbons. Later this year, the Fremont Main Library has given FWCG members a chance to display their carved art pieces on the main floor. There will be plenty of room and time for new members to make some great pieces to display as well.

What's better than giving a gift that you made? Completing a project of this type is an expression of your own heart and soul; a legacy for generations to come. Find your innate talent by attending a Wednesday night get-together with the Fremont Wood Carvers Group. It's free and a guaranteed great time.

Fremont Wood Carvers Group
Wednesday nights
7 p.m. Ð 9 p.m.
Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont
(510) 651-4271

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