• 70°

Creative carving comes to Clanton

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Chunks of wood were transformed into figurines during a wood carving class with Tim Tingle at the Chilton County Arts Council on April 12.

Some attendees were drawn to the event because of seeing Tingle’s work. He is best known for his carved sculptures in Montevallo’s Orr Park.

Each person started with a piece of wood that had been cut into the general outline of a man. Tingle walked students though defining the shape and adding details, such as shoes, face and miner’s hat.

One of the most essential tools for the carving project was a sharp straight edge pocket knife that comes to a point.

“I don’t like stainless steel,” Tingle said. “You can get an edge on it but it won’t stay, you start carving and it will go dull.”

A knife made from a higher carbon steel retains a sharp edge better.  Tingle said keeping a knife sharp is one of the most challenging parts of carving.

Wood like cedar, spruce and fir are good for carving.

“My preference is either cedar or sassafras wood,” Tingle said.

Safety is also important. Tingle always has bandages on hand. He said usually the first time someone new to the art form cuts themselves, they quit.

Jemison resident Gary Martin is an exception. Martin cut his thumb when the foot of his wooden man broke off during the first class offered at the Chilton County Arts Council, but the next week he was back to finish the project.

Tingle said it is important to carve with the grain of the wood to keep it from splitting. He said this is how most people cut their fingers.

The wood can be held in a way to protect the carver from cutting themselves.

Martin said he met Tingle at an art show in Cullman.

“The opportunity to learn from someone like him is incredible,” Martin said. “It’s relaxing and enjoyable … If I could just learn to whittle one thing, I’d be happy.”

Doug West of Jemison said he was “fascinated” by Tingle’s work. West said he had experience in woodworking but had never tried carving.

“It just captured my interest,” West said.

He said trying to avoid mistakes was challenging for his first time, but thinks it is something he will continue to do even after the glass ends.

He said he enjoyed the fellowship and the opportunity to learn what the class offered.

Tingle began whittling when he was 8 years old. As he got older, he added carving tools and a pocket knife to his collection of implements.

After tornadoes destroyed some of the trees in Orr Park, Tingle saw the stumps as a wood carving opportunity.

“I went over there and carved that stump into a horse head, and a few days later, no one had called me out on it, so I went back and started another one, and then another one,” Tingle said. “I did six of them before they caught me.”

When city officials learned he was the artist behind the carving, they welcomed him to continue.