I was born in Spartanburg, SC, but spent summers in Landrum, SC, with my grandparents where I gained an appreciation for the mountains and foothills of the upstate, especially Hogback Mt. I began deer hunting at 15 when I picked up my first pine knot to carve while I told myself I was “hunting.” Carving faces quickly became a passion along with hiking. It seemed only natural to personalize my hiking stick with a carving. While my original intent was to carve the trappers of the 1800’s (Jim Bridger, Jeremiah Johnson, etc.), the time-honored “wood spirit” soon crept in and some say, “took over.” My wife, Marnie, says the faces have become more “rascally.”
I graduated Limestone College in 1975 with a degree in biology. In 1976 I succumbed to the music bug and did a 5-year stint as the drummer for David Allen Coe. I settled down to a real job in 1981. Twenty-four years and five months later I became a casualty of down-sizing, and carving became fulltime with the encouragement of friends and family.
While carving has been gratifying it hasn’t been without occupational hazards . . . . bitten by 3 rattlesnakes, one copperhead, 2 black widow spiders, and 1 brown recluse spider, which had the worst effect of any of them. Throw in tick fever several years ago and some stitches here and there, and this job can get dangerous at times.
I personally cut and harvest all the saplings that I use to make my sticks, putting me in line for all of the aforementioned calamities. I never had a carving lesson, read a “how to” book, or saw a “how to” video . . totally self-taught. In spite of the repercussions of spending so much time in the emergency room, I truly love creating a face in wood.