It didn’t take much for John Grey to become a carver. In 1999, he drove past a sign highlighting the World Carving Headquarters in Parkersburg, W.Va. Grey exited the roadway, bought $850 worth of tools, and the 73-year-old retired State Farm worker has been carving ever since.
Grey has carved hundreds of sculptures from butternut wood from trees at his 80-acre hobby farm in Plymouth, Wis.
During the last one-and-a-half years, from a makeshift shop in his Palm-Aire garage, Grey has carved creations, including a likeness of 102-year-old Sarasota golf pro Gus Andreone, which stands at the Palm-Aire Country Club driving range. Grey has also carved Santa Clauses, mountain men, Yankees, sea creatures, walking sticks and more. He donates art to the Boys & Girls Club and teaches carving lessons from his garage.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
On the most important skill of carving:
“You have to know anatomy — like the distance across the eyes is the same as the distance from your eyes to your mouth, and the flattest part of your face is your front teeth. Certain proportions make a pleasing face. Getting the eyes right is the hardest.”
On what drew him to carving and whether he is a born carver: “I don’t have any art background in my family. I just didn’t want to golf five days a week. It’s nice to make something and have it turn into something good. It’s a different pace. Am I blessed? I guess so. I don’t cut myself.”
On his carving process: “I start with 10 to 15 pieces of wood, preferably butternut, because it doesn’t splinter when you go against the grain. You have to know how to sharpen your tools. Face features always come first.”
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