Self-taught artist combines relief techniques with realism to create fine-art carvings

By Bob Duncan

Fred Cogelow was seemingly destined to be a woodcarver. “Everything kept leading to it,* he said. His father was a woodworker* who died when Fred was six, leaving behind a set of tools that Fred used to make his first carving: a face crudely gouged into his mother's breadboard. He later received a set of cheap carving tools as a prize at his job % as a newspaper delivery boy, prompting his 1 manager to say with a guffaw, “Hey, maybe J you’ll be a famous woodcarver someday!

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Visitors to western South Dakota often go to the main tourist attractions, such as Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, or the Black Hills, but for woodcarving enthusiasts, a visit to the National Museum of Woodcarving should definitely be on their lists for sights to see.

Charlotte, North Carolina, woodcarver Bill Dominick doesn't believe in the theory that bigger is better. In fact, he actually prefers to carve smaller pieces.

During a recent conversation, Dominick shared a story about how he developed that preference.

"Lee Dukes, the founder of the Charlotte (NC) Wood-carvers Club, told me that big carvings always seem to get the attention and tend to win in shows (assuming they are well carved),” Dominic said. "But Lee brought up a good question: ‘Where do you put a big carving?'"

For Kevin Strauslin, owner of Oregon 3D Art and Chainsaw Sculptures LLC, creativity comes naturally to him. Whether it was in drywall, where he was in demand'for his hand texturing, or now with his chainsaw sculpturing, coming up with ideas is fairly easy for him.

Becoming a wood-carver basically happened by accident though. While being bored at a job site, and with some time on his hands, Strauslin started playing in the mud and sculpted the drywall. His boss and friend saw what he was doing, said "you're an artist,” eventually “fired" him from his job, and told him that he needed to become a woodcarver.

And now five years later, Strauslin’s interest in woodcarving and his business continue to grow. Recently,I talked with him about many things, including how he started as a woodcarver, what he's currently involved in, and what his future goals are.

In Boston during the first half of the last century, there was a vibrant Lebanese community near the area which is now known as Chinatown. The community was rich with talent and counted among its members the poet Kahlil Gibran.

In this community there was a boarding house where one day a boy was watching a man carving something out of wood. When the boy asked what the man was making, the man said simply, "A spoon...". So the inquisitive child asked, "Why?" and the man responded, "Because i need one".