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Woodcarvers show off creative handiwork at annual Rendezvous in Oakhurst

A raffle for this Noah’s Ark piece was held to benefit the Tehachapi Senior Center during the 10th Annual Woodcarvers Rendezvous held last week in Oakhurst. The ark plus all passengers was a club project, which took the Tehachapi Mountain Carvers about a year to complete. Here, President Alan Powell sits with member Heidi Thrasher.
A raffle for this Noah’s Ark piece was held to benefit the Tehachapi Senior Center during the 10th Annual Woodcarvers Rendezvous held last week in Oakhurst. The ark plus all passengers was a club project, which took the Tehachapi Mountain Carvers about a year to complete. Here, President Alan Powell sits with member Heidi Thrasher. Sierra Star

No matter the activity, the 180 attendees, while singularly focused, looked relaxed - just one of the benefits of working with your hands to create artistic and useful items.

Meleny Piotrowski of the Riverside Chip Chuckers has been woodcarving for 10 years. While working on a love spoon, she said, “I was a sewer, which was fine, but someone conned me into woodcarving and I fell in love with it. And now, it’s the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done.”

“It keeps me out of bars,” teased Glen Stimpson of Santa Clara, as he worked on his walking stick, which he said is much safer and sturdier than a cane.

“It can be done anywhere, and by anyone,” added instructor Gary Hensley from Pleasanton. “I’m legally blind, and I carve and instruct.”

“Anyone can do it” includes the younger crowd, as Sonoma County’s Clay McDonnell, 11, worked diligently on drawing straight lines before beginning his chip carving.

The 10th Annual Oakhurst Woodcarvers Rendezvous brought woodcarvers from the Western United States together for six days last week to share techniques, learn new crafts, hone skills under the guidance and tutelage of instructors, and most importantly, to have fun.

“When you have an annual event, you need to keep changing it up, so we try to make each year different,” said event chairman Larry Smith. “There were new classes this year - rope basket making, creating teddy bears, and cypress knee carving. We also offered knitting, crocheting and painting for those not carving. This is a week to have fun with other woodcarvers, and to learn other techniques and crafts, and it’s a huge success this year. People have already made plans and reservations to come back next year, April 15-21. You can’t just read about this even because you won’t understand what people are doing unless you come out and see for yourself.”

The Central Sierra Woodcarvers meet every Thursday from 12:30 - 3 p.m., at the Sierra Senior Center in Oakhurst, and the fourth Monday of the month from 7 - 9 p.m., at the Oakhurst Library.

Details: Larry Smith, Central Sierra Woodcarvers, (559) 906-4198 or woodtat@icloud.com.

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