Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

March 28, 2014

Carving his own way

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — Tom Bradbury is a wood carver. He has been doing it for about 17 years, and has often wanted to share his love for the craft with others, but hadn’t been able to find a way do to that until recently.  

Tom, who lives in Park City, decided the best way to gain knowledge and exchange ideas about wood carving with others is to form a wood carvers club.

“I really haven’t run into anyone who carves,” he said. “You go to other places all across the United States and they’ve got clubs set up. I mean we’re talking 40 to 50 people all sitting around carving.”

Tom will host an organizational meeting for the Cave Country Carvers, a wood carving club, at the Cave City Community Center on Duke Street at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday.  

Tom travels to other locations across the nation, attending wood carving seminars to learn more about wood carving. Often there are wood carving clubs exhibiting at the seminars. Some even host wood carving competitions, he said.

“What I noticed about the clubs is they do things for the community, which is pretty neat,” he said.

One club in Huntsville, Ala., donated the proceeds from the sale of hand-carved Christmas ornaments they made to a charity.

“I thought that would be a cool thing if we could get a bunch of people together to do something like that,” he said.

Tom took up wood carving 17 years ago while recovering from a broken foot he sustained in a motorcycle wreck.

He was sitting on the front porch with his father one day watching his dad carve.

“I started asking him questions,” Tom said.

His father gave him a knife and block of wood and urged him to give carving a try for himself.

 “He finally got tired of all my questions and said, ‘Here, answer your own questions,’” Tom said. “And I did.”  

He began by learning how to sharpen his knife.

“You’ve got to learn how to sharpen your knife before you can carve with it,” he said.

Next, he began to study the basics of wood carving.

He started out making several small wood carvings. One of the first things he made was a Christmas ornament shaped like a donkey.

It wasn’t long before he began taking wood carving a little more seriously and began reading books about the craft and trying to learn more about it.

“That’s when I started turning out a lot of this stuff,” he said, gesturing toward a shelf filled with hand carved figurines.

The style of wood carving his does is mostly “in the round,” which means he takes a piece of wood and produces a 3D image.

He can also do realistic carving, which is more of a true representation of a person or an animal.

One figure he made is of Santa Claus dragging a Christmas tree behind him.

“This is one of my favorites,” his wife, Stacey, said, picking it up off a shelf. “I’m partial to Santa. During Christmas I have a huge Christmas tree in the living room that has nothing but Santa ornaments on it. He has carved several of the Santa ornaments on it.”

Tom began doing caricature figurines two years ago. The one he was working on Thursday afternoon, the eve of the basketball game between the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, was of a Kentucky wildcat holding a red feather in his teeth while balancing a basketball on his fingertips.

Taking a look at the piece, a person might think Tom is a University of Kentucky basketball fan, but he isn’t. He roots for the University of Ohio, instead.

He was carving the wildcat figurine from a piece of bass wood.

“The main wood of choice for most all carvers is bass wood,” Tom said. “It’s really soft and has a tight grain. That’s what you’re looking for in wood for carving.”  

Stacey admires her husband for being able to do wood carving, but Tom is rather modest.

“I think he has a true God-given talent and I don’t think he realizes what a talent he has,” she said. “I think last year he set up for the first time down at the Horse Cave Heritage Festival and people went nuts. He was really stunned. I told him, ‘I’ve been telling you for years how good you are.’”

For more information about the upcoming club meeting, call 270-590-6607.

Read more in the print or digital Glasgow Daily Times.