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Man's Craving for Carving Surfaced

by Janet Nesler


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"I carve every day," said Willis Bond, "I have carved ever since I quit smoking. I had to have something to keep my hands busy." That was six years ago and Bond discovered he had a hidden talent -- the ability to turn an ordinary piece of wood into a
piece of art.

"When I pick up a piece of wood and start carving, I never know what it's going to be unless I have a definite goal in mind. If I'm going to make a cat. . .I know it will be a cat but I don't
know in my mind what it will look like. I never know what the facial features are going to be; it all comes with my hands."

Bond started out carving small things. His cousin Kenneth brought him a boot, so his first piece turned out to be a boot. He just went on from there and people started telling him he had talent
and wanted him to carve things for them. His first opportunity to sell was when he displayed at Carter Caves. During that showing he received an invitation to display in an art festival
at Morehead College and he sold his first piece there.

After Bond started selling, his most popular item became his totem pole Santa. He sold a lot of them to stores in Lexington,

Kentucky, and Columbus, Ohio, for awhile. Then the demand became too great and all he had time to do were the Santas. He wanted to try other things, so he stopped supplying the stores and now only makes three or four Santas a year. It takes five to six weeks to make one.

Once Bond got started with his new-found talent he carved faces on stumps in his yard. He wanted to give something for the public to enjoy, so he carved wood spirit faces on two stumps in downtown Olive Hill. These stumps are about three feet high and are a unique addition to the downtown area. Bond carved one in the downtown section of Olive Hill without telling his wife,
Bonnie, and waited to see how long it was before she noticed it. "She never did notice it and a friend told her about it so she drove over to see it for herself" laughed Bond.

When asked what was the hardest thing to carve Bond answered, "The hardest thing to carve is a woman's face, noses are very prominent in carving and it's easier to carve them on a man's

Bond carves a lot of driftwood and lets it dry one year in the woodshed behind his log house. Most of the driftwood is sycamore or maple wood. He has a bass wood log 14 feet long drying to make a totem pole some time in the future. Bass wood is a well known carving wood.

Bond's favorite things to carve are totem poles and Indians. The totem pole tells a story of the family. The bear represents the family; the raven means someone is really wise in that clan; the
thunderbird means a good harvest. If it carries a lot of salmon there will be lots of good food that winter. Bond has carved a smiling Indian because you very seldom see a smiling Indian in
sculpturing. He has also done a peace pipe.

Bond has given carving demonstrations at Cave Run, Ashland, and Morehead, Kentucky. He also volunteers a lot of time showing his skill to children in 4©H camps and Boy Scout Camps. When doing a demonstration, within an hour he can show the eyes, nose and mouth. "But then," Bond says, "comes the hard part." But he always lets them see a finished piece of what he is

When doing his demonstration for 4-H members and Scouts he takes small parts carved out of walnuts and lets the kids glue them together to make a walnut owl. He uses a slow glue so the
project will take longer so they can get a sense of accomplishment from the project.

When starting a new piece, Bond always starts out with a one half inch chisel and a mallet. Then he uses a V©tool and gorge and flat carving knife. He finishes the piece with either shoe polish or a paste of poly©urethane semi-gloss.

Bond was raised around the Olive Hill area but spent six years in the Army serving one year in Korea and one in Viet Nam. He now works full time at Ashland Oil. When retirement time comes he will be sculpturing full time.

Bond and his wife, Bonnie, live in a newly built log home they built themselves and Bond has carried his talent into the house with unique carving touches throughout. He carved the banisters
on a loft that overlooks the kitchen and living room and plans to carve the poles on either side of the fireplace when time permits. Bond gives his wife full credit for the decorating scheme though, which is also unique.

His new found talent has won Bond many awards. He has won sculptor awards at Carter Caves Art Shows, Jenny Wiley Art Shows, Greenbo Lodge, art shows in Morehead, and last November at a carving show in Lexington, Kentucky.

A year ago Bond and a few other area friends who like to carve started a carving club that meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Ashland Art Gallery and has members from South Point, and West Virginia. "People have a lot of different styles of carving," said Bond. "We are hoping to get about 50 members, then we can have competitions among club members because of so many different styles. It is a tri-state club and new members are welcome." The name of the club is The Ashland Area Art Gallery Carving Club.

Bond has an old masthead carved from catalpa wood on display in the Ashland Art Gallery. He sells his Santas and other pieces at The Chicken Coop in Grayson, Kentucky and Bond is also available for commissioned work.

On March 29 at 7:00 PM Bond will be giving a demonstration in Ashland at Ashland Community College for the Art Club. In June he will be doing art carving competition at Washington, Kentucky.



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