BRADFORD — Dennis “Butch” Clark will be the featured artist at the Bradford Ohio Railroad Museum’s annual wine/beer tasting and arts/antiques auction on Saturday at 200 N. Miami Ave.
Clark has lived with wife Janie (Shroyer) Clark for 43 years near the state wildlife area in New Harrison.
He has been carving realistic birds and ducks since 1992 and belongs to the Brukner Nature Carvers.
He plans on taking 20 varieties of wood-carved birds Saturday to the railroad museum as well as some unfinished items to show people the process of woodcarving.
Clark was featured in the summer issue of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine in 2013. In that, he wrote an article entitled “Carving An Acorn.” He has also had other works published and has won numerous awards at woodcarving shows and competitions throughout the country, including the International Woodcarvers Congress and The Ward World Wildfowl competition.
He got interested in woodcarving in 1990 when he went camping out West with his uncle, Bill, now deceased. Bill was an artist and sign painter from Indiana and picked up a piece of wood and carved a squirrel.
“I thought it was neat,” said Clark. “A couple of years went by and I saw wood-carved birds at the Darke County Fair and asked Tom Trittschuh how he got started and he told me about Jim Barker of Covington, who taught it. So he [Barker] taught me too in lessons. I didn’t even know what kind of wood knives were used. I thought you used pocket knives. I have my first knife from 1992 and now use different knives.”
For fine detailing of the birds, Clark said he does power carving with a Dremel.
Clark, who has all kinds of books on birds, carves hickory nuts, rocks and wood stumps, known as habitat. He has carved flowers on hummingbirds and carved nails onto a wren project.
He has done demonstrations at the fair, Prairie Days, at the A&B Coffee Shop and many woodcarving shows. He is also an instructor on birds and habitats.
“I taught in Florida in March and in Lake Placid, New York, in June,” he said. “Last fall I was in Hickory, North Carolina, and Converse, Indiana. I will be teaching a goldfinch class in Middletown the week after the Dayton show N0v. 18-20.”
A 2002 retiree of Corning Glass, he numbers every piece he finishes. He has on hand brass wire for birds’ feet, epoxy paint, glass eyes and acrylic and oil paints.
Clark said in an earlier interview that the secret to woodcarving is having patience, especially on birds, which he prefers to work with.
He lives near Bradford with his wife the former Janie Shroyer.
Now, he draws his own patterns and designs his own birds, starting out with a block of wood.
“I’ve always liked birds and I’ve learned more about them through carving,” said the U.S. Army veteran, who said he only carves in the wintertime. “Sometimes, the birds don’t make it to competition because I sell or give them away.”
He attends shows in Punta Gorda, Florida, Charlotte and Hickory, North Carolina, Indianapolis, and Ohio shows, such as Cincinnati, Dayton, Sauter Village, Sidney, and, of course, Troy with his Brukner club. Future appearances he plans to make include the Artistry in Wood event in Dayton Nov. 14 and 15, Last year there were 28 states and Canada with carvers there, he said.
He also goes to two prestigious international shows
“One is in Maquoketa, close to Illinois, for the National Woodcarving Congress every June and the other is in Ocean City, Maryland, in April for the Ward World Competition
“I’ve been to Ocean City twice and placed second and third,” Clark said. “I competed in wildfowl carving and won with my wren and sparrow. It is the most prestigious one for birds.”
He learns about these woodcarving-related events in the magazines he subscribes to, including Chip Chats, published by the various woodworkers associations.
Clark has even gotten into making whimsical birds, which he said are famous among show-goers.
“I am teaching a chickadee class in Florida,’ he said. “And, there is a lot of interest in habitat carving. I do my own.”
Clark, whose favorite bird is the Carolina wren, who mostly carves with bass wood and tupelo
Now, his 12-year-old grandson, Alex Kolb, is working in woodcarving and going to shows to compete.
“He wants to go to Dayton,” Clark said.
The event in Bradford Saturday will also feature samples from The Winery at Versailles, as well as a mix of domestic and imported beers. The tasting will be from 7-9 p.m., with the art auction taking place live with auctioneer Richard Edwards at 8 p.m.