The new wood carving class at the Austintown Senior Center has residents sharpening their skills. It began in February and has since grown to almost 20 strong, both men and women.
"We came from the Round Table Carvers in Youngstown," said group spokesman Tom Evans. "We came to Austintown Senior Center to better the club."
Evans said the classes are informal and everyone is equal, whether just starting out in the hobby, to the seasoned pro. The concept is to have the mix so those who have been carving can pass on hints and tips to make a newcomer better.
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Garry Sullivan of Austintown, works on an elf face that he is carving from a single piece of wood. He is one of 19 who have joined the wood carving class at the Austintown Senior Center.
For the newcomer, carver Marty Trebus said the first project is to carve a tramp art mouse. The project comes with the wood, the cuts needed to be made and tips on finishing it. Evans said it is a perfect project. Even though it is small, it requires all the cuts used in wood carving.
Trebus said the mouse was originally made by hobos as they traveled across the country. The hobo would carve the mouse, then any place a person gave them food in exchange for work, the hobo would place the mouse on the window. It was meant to alert another hobo that this particular place offered food for work.
One new member attending the classes is Pat Pochiro from the West Side. He completed his mouse in February and is presently working on a fancy walking cane.
Others in the class have been carving for some time. Diane Ziegler from Canfield, has perfected her skills with the carving knives and is now working on a finely detailed set of wooden coasters.
"I plan on giving them to my kids for Christmas," she said.
Patty McSuley from Boardman, is also one of the four women in the class. She got her start from her father Charles Mound Sr., who started carving in 1990 and has become a seasoned veteran of the hobby.
"My dad found another trade - wood carving," she said, "so I got into it too."
Her brother Charles Mound Jr. also attends the classes with his dad.
Jim Shevchenko of Canfield, started carving in 1987. He said he finds it enjoyable and environmentally sound.
"You take something natural and free and create art out of it," he said.
Shevchenko is working on an egg-shaped piece of wood that he intends to carve into a miniature basket of flowers.
One of the newer members of the class is Garry Sullivan of Austintown, who is working on an elf face that he found as a picture on the internet. He got his start in 2004.
"I was working at General Motors at the time and was getting close to retirement," he said. "I thought carving would be a good hobby."
Each member of the class has their own story on how they got started, even the first timers. They also have a giving nature and many make items to give away. Patty Sully said she started when her children were attending Robinwood Elementary School in Boardman. She loved carving ghosts holding pumpkins and would give them to her children's teachers at the school.
"When my last kid left Robinwood, every teacher there had one of my carvings," she said.
Evans said the classes are held every Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at the Austintown Senior Center, 112 Westchester Drive, just of Mahoning Avenue, east of the Ohio 11 overpass. The classes are open to everyone. Seniors who live outside Austintown, can join the center for $36 a year and the classes are free. Those who don't want to join, can pay a $20 fee to take the classes. Because Austintown residents are taxed to fund the Senior Center, membership is free to them.