Posted by: woodbeecarver   in Carving Friends


Jim Hecker  of Elk River,  Minnesota has graciously granted permission to post photographs of one of his carving projects he calls “Old Jim,” as well as share his carving philosophy.  In the Fall of 2011 Jim added a carving studio/shop to his and his wife Sue’s house that is 14’ by 24’.  He is pictured in his new studio with a contented smile on his face.  Another photo shows a display case with some of his carvings.

The photographs that follow are of “Old Jim”, a peaceful old gentleman that we all aspire to become one of these days when the years catch us with us.  Old Jim was carved out of a two inch square by six inch tall block of basswood that was sawed into a carving blank.  The basic shape Jim learned from Bruce Futterer who teaches Scandinavian style of carving.  Jim painted “Old Jim” with acrylic paint thinned with water and finished with Watco Danish Oil Natural and Watco Satin Wax Natural thinned with two parts odorless mineral spirits to one part wax.

The photographic journey that follows was taken by Jim’s wife Sue.  Study each photograph in order to journey along with Carver Jim imagining how he made each cut to shape “Old Jim” into a peaceful study of maturity.   Following the photographic journey is Jim’s carving philosophy.


Jim’s Carving Philosophy

While I enjoy being identified as one who carves figures in “the Scandinavian Style,” I do not limit myself to that genre. Over the years I have done Chip Carving and I have carved stylized birds, Christmas tree ornaments, and caricature animals. I have whittled chains, balls in cages, pliers, and various odds and ends. But I would have to say the Scandinavian Style is my favorite at this point in my carving journey.

A number of years ago a local art teacher was asked why he loves painting. He replied, “Because I love the feel of the paint coming off the brush. That’s the primary reason.” I could say that I like whittling/carving because I enjoy so much the feel of a good sharp knife slicing through the wood.

Like many carvers, I use the C.A.S.E. Method – Copy And Steal Everything – and I borrow anything that makes sense to me. I have adopted Mike Shipley’s philosophy for most of my projects. That means the first question I ask whether I will enjoy carving a piece. Then I keep Mike’s two guidelines in mind: Add enough detail to make it interesting and keep it simple enough to be fun. For me the joy of carving is in the process as much or more than in the finished product. Or, as Don Mertz reminds us, “Woodcarving is the journey more than the destination. There are no mistakes, only learning experiences. Relax and enjoy the journey”

I have begun selling some carvings, mainly to keep our house from being overrun by my creations. However, my first question is not whether a piece will sell, but whether I will enjoy carving the piece, even several times. Setting prices on my carvings has been the biggest challenge. I don’t want to just give them away, but there is no way I can expect to get paid for the time I have invested. I decided that since I got to enjoy carving the piece, if someone will give me a few bucks for the opportunity to enjoy owning it that is a good enough deal for me. I give some of the proceeds away and use some for supplies and to take the edge off my “toolitis” cravings.

Thanks to Jim for his carving philosophy, pictures of Old Jim and for friendship within the carving community.


This entry was posted on Saturday, February 4th, 2012 at 11:12 am and is filed under Carving Friends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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