Among all the other classes offered by the Harker Heights Parks and Recreation Department is a woodcarving class for seniors. The class, offered once per week on Tuesday mornings, is open to people of all skill levels, including beginner, and can turn the simple whittling of a block of wood into a beautiful piece of art.
Member Marty Stanek, who has been carving for 45 years, said, “Even someone with no experience can join.”
He said that for beginners, they typically focus on safety and the grain of wood.
“There is a right way and a wrong way to carve,” he said.
“You can carve nearly any type of wood,” Stanek said, adding, “We mostly carve out of basswood.”
Beginners are also educated about the different styles of carving. Stanek said there are two main types, relief carving and “in-the-round” carving.
In-the-round carving involves a block of wood, from which a three-dimensional object is carved.
Relief carving is when a design is carved onto a flat surface, much like a painting, and the design can be either raised or flat.
“We tell (beginners) to find something that interests you. Start with something simple and work your way up to something more complex,” Stanek said.
The class also works with wood burning, something that can be used as a technique in and of itself, or as a way to enhance the details in a carved design.
Member Norm Cole, who has been carving for about five years, said he does both wood carving and wood burning.
“You don’t want to do the same exact thing over and over,” he said.
“One type of art will enhance another type,” Stanek said.
Cole was working on a guiro rasp — a frog-shaped African percussion instrument with a raised back; when a stick is rubbed across the ridges it will produce a sound similar to a frog’s croak — and said once the carving was done a clear coat would be applied, which will both tint and protect the wood.
But no matter the project, “It always begins with a single block of wood,” he said.
Daniel Frederick has only been carving since 2016, yet has produced many beautiful pieces, from small wooden figurines to a highly ornate walking cane.
He said he has his own workshop at his home, where he builds furniture and other large pieces, but reserves his carving for Tuesdays.
“It keeps me busy,” he said. “I enjoy coming.”
Besides producing some beautiful pieces, each of the men agreed that there was another benefit to the class, and that is that wood carving is highly relaxing.
“I used to carve seven days a week,” Stanek said. “It’s so satisfying ... It’s very relaxing.”
“It’s a good hobby, and you can create something,” Cole said.
For more information about the woodcarving class, please go to the Parks and Recreation website at www.ci.harker-heights.tx.us/index.php/programs-a-events/senior-recreation-programs or call 254-953-5493.