Report from the International Woodcarvers Congress
21 June 2012
No doubt you will have seen Tegan’s blog while I was away, saying where I was during my time in the USA, and I must admit I loved every minute of it. The last week of the trip I was at the International Woodcarvers Congress, and what a wonderful time I had. Have a look at the congress’s website here. The event was held again in a town called Maquoketa —from the Sauk and Fox Indian word meaning "there are bears" or "little bear" - and not only is this the place to go for lessons – with three and five day courses available - from some of the top carvers around the world, there is also the longest running, competitively judged woodcarving art show in the USA.
It is held at the Jackson County Fairground. Having run for 46 years it is a tried and tested formula that still attracts over 250 people to the courses and thousands to see the display of work in the competitions, with may carvers and people from around the surrounding area travelling to see this visual treat. But suffice to say that it was a great privilege and treat to go and see what they do. Larry Yudis - the show chairperson - and the rest of the board work so hard in putting the event together. It is mind boggling to think how much time and effort they voluntarily spend during the year to bring this superb event about. I, along with everyone who attend, is welcomed with open arms and the emphasis is not only to learn, see new things, be challenged and participate in the competition, but also to make friends and have fun. Trust me when I say there was a lot of mickey taking and fun during the show. More than once, I had tears rolling down my face from laughing so hard – a po-faced event it is not. I love that there is a commonality between all carvers, no matter where they come from and also the differences in the way we tackle or approach things.
I have not seen anything quite like this event anywhere else on my travels. It is truly a real treat, and if you ever get the chance to go, please do. One surreal thing that happened was that on being picked up from the airport by Bruce – a member of the board who graciously looked after me during the week and put me to work on helping out where I could too, told me that 500 tractors had arrived and were parked up at the show for one night only before they moved on to heaven knows where. True enough, I was up at the crack of dawn the following day to see this sight, and lo and behold, 500 tractors with drivers were getting ready to move on in a convoy to their next location. The tractors were of various makes and many were from a bygone era of yeasteryear. Apparently they all thought it would be a good idea to do this for a few days.
I will of course be writing and showing much more about the congress in a future issue of the magazine. I have to go now. I am, as always after a trip away form the office and especially after a long trip away, playing catch up before I have four days in Ireland.
Have fun in the meanwhile and I will be back in touch when I get back.
Images, from top to bottom:
1. A few of the 500 tractors ready to move on
2. A much-loved and looked after older vintage tractor
3. The judges' critique of the pieces on display at the International Woodcarvers Congress
4. Vic Hood explaining one of the finer points involved in carving realistic busts (PHOTOGRAPHS BY GMC/MARK BAKER)Contact Mark Baker