By GENE ESPY
Delaine Crisp has been carving for 25 years and she still loves making carvings out of basswood.
She started carving when her family moved to the house they live in now.
“I have always liked carving because I could always draw,” Delaine said. “They always say that if you can draw, you can carve.”
They have woods beside their house, and she picked up a stick one day about four or five inches long and she began trying to carve a face into it. When she got a nose made and a place for the eyes, she said, “I think I can do this.”
She decided to go to the store to get some basswood, a type of wood that most carvers use.
“It is easy to carve,” Mrs. Crisp added.
She began playing around with carving the basswood and then she took a couple of classes that Jim Marbutt taught and later took a carving class in the Smoky Mountains with one of her friends.
“I really, really enjoyed it,” she continued. “But most of it I picked up by myself.”
Over the years she has probably carved more than 300 figures. She has taken a lot of them to the Smoky Mountains to a lady there that has sold a lot of her creations. The store is Good Nature’s Friend and Mrs. Crisp hasn’t taken them anything in a while. The store sent her a check last week for the last two pieces that they had so she is working to take them more.
“I have really enjoyed that,” she added.
She does a lot of her carving while she is watching television.
“I make a big mess on the floor,” Mrs. Crisp said with a laugh.
Her husband, Nolan bought her a workshop because he got tired of her carving in the house.
“In the wintertime it is cold, so I inch my way back in there, then I have wood all over the floor.”
She buys the basswood in blocks of about six inches.
She has cut herself numerous times carving but has never needed a stitch (so far).
“Nolan can always find me because he can follow the blood trail,” she added with a laugh.
She has made all kinds of figures from a Civil War soldier that she also carved the gun on his back, to all kinds of Santa Claus figures. She has carved a figure into a real golf ball with a long tee with it. She has also carved a face into a softball.
She has also made a number of items with a scroll saw, which she also enjoys doing.
One of her favorite things she has done was a carving of a bear she did in the Smoky Mountains. She says she is keeping that one for herself.
Asked if she has ever messed up and had to throw one she has started away.
She said, “No, you can’t do that, you can’t ever make a mistake, you can always turn it into something else. I have made a mistake but have always been able to change what I was doing and do anther figure.”
The Civil War figure she did started out being a golfer, but the hat didn’t look right and looked like a Civil War hat, so she changed the figure into the soldier.
She showed a scroll saw piece she had done for her mom that had a hummingbird in it, which her mom likes.
“I like to do scroll sawing also,” Mrs. Crisp added. “This is what I really started doing.”
She said she still does the scroll sawing and the carving.
“But carving is my favorite of all the things I do,” she added. “I also do crocheting, cross stitching – I can do just about anything.”
She hopes to do carving of many of the presidents in the future and looks forward to doing Ronald Reagan.
She is trying to teach her grandkids how to carve. She lets them carve a bar of soap with Popcicle sticks.
It took her two days to carve the bear and two days on some of the larger figures. However, it only takes her five or six hours to do the smaller Santa Claus figures.
The knives she uses have to be honed about every 15 minutes of carving and sharpened every month or so.
“Sometimes I have a hard time selling the figures I carve or giving them away because I love them so much,” Mrs. Crisp explained. “And then I say, okay I am just giving them up for adoption.”
Her husband does the painting.
“I love to paint but I let him do the painting except for the eyes – he can’t do eyes,” she said with a laugh.
She said that every one of the carvings have a different look to them.
Wherever she goes, she takes her carving set with her “just in case.”