Creative Woodworks & crafts 2003-09, страница 60
Meet Calvin Berry
by Ivan Whitlock
When Calvin Berry was about, seven, it was his job to take lunch to his father who worked for the WPA. One time Calvin was lale and his father's lunch break was over by the time the boy arrived. Unfortunately, his father had to go hack to work without eating. That incident made an indelible impression on young Calvin and bothered him for many years after. He resolved that some day he would have a job where someone else couldn't tell him when he could cat. After many years in and out of jobs, Calvin finally got his wish. At age 38, Calvin started making his living as a wood carver.
Born and raised in Oklahoma. Calvin's interest in wood carving started very early. Like many young boys of that era, he usually carried a jackknife. He tried whittling objects with it from lime to time. Then, at age nine, he carved ail airplane that received much praise from his family and friends. He still has thai airplane and displays it proudly in his shop. From then on he carved a variety of subjects, finally trying a human figure when he was fifteen. Carving has been a passion ever since.
In 1968, Calvin .started taking his carvings to wood carving shows. In the early days, he would occasionally hitchhike from show to show, carrying his small carvings with him. He would display his works, carve, and chat with the folks who walked by. It was at these shows thai he also became introduced to other carvers and discovered that there were many types of carving tools other than the jackknife. lie slowly acquired a variety of specialized tools which made many of the cuts easier. Although the knife remains his primary tool, he found that the hair detail on his animals became much easier with V tools and veiners, and that other chisels and gouges made specific cuts a whole lot less work.
Although Calvin is largely self-taught, he has recently sat in on a few classes to learn about the techniques of other carvers. "I am usually the worst student in class,'' he jokes; "I have my own idea of what the carving should look like." His idea, Calvin says, is usually different than the teacher's.
ED • Creative Woodworks & Crafts September 2003
Being the "worst student" hasn't prevented Calvin from teaching, however. He exclaims, "I love that teaching!" Calvin says he learns while he is teaching. In order to show his carving techniques to others, he first has to be clear on them himself. He has taught in a variety of places, including the Northeast Area Vo-Tceh and Tulsa University. At first he couldn't understand why wood carving wasn't a course at the vocational school level. He lobbied the local vocational-technical school to include wood carving as a class. He said, "1 hung in there until they accepted wood carving."
Calvin works primarily in basswood and walnut. He prefers walnut because it "saves time." Basswood lakes an extra step as it must be stained to give the look that he prefers, but walnut does not. He personally likes natural finishes best, but he will paint his carvings from time to time. lie has found that "colors attract attention." His specialty is carving shoes that look well worn, anything from loafers to cowboy boots. He also carves small animals of various types, but he likes skipping around from one type of carving to the next. He says he will try anything: "I can't say, 'I don't!"'
On display at his shop is a wide variety of his work and his collection of memorabilia. On one wall is the front page from the Grit newspaper which featured him. On others there are photos of Calvin with various notables, and paintings and drawings of him wearing his trademark derby hat. Calvin has often posed for the portrait classes at the local college.
Although he is usually working in his shop, he says, 'I don't push like I used to. I don't have to work as hard because I'm on Social Security!" Not having to "push" so hard means that the affable Calvin has time to chat with the folks who drop by to sec his carvings. Calvin's entertaining stories and infectious laugh show that this is a man who enjoys meeting people and sharing his carvings. And now, of course, he can eat any time of the day he wants to!
Calvin Berry !v shop is located at 437229 E. Highway 60, Vinita, Oklahoma 74301