Popular Woodworking 2004-02 № 139, страница 38

Popular Woodworking 2004-02 № 139, страница 38

to three coats of Johnson's paste wax. For painted pieces, he uses acrylics.

The Business of Carving

Monhollen enjoys the fact that he doesn't have to punch a time clock every day. In fact, he can only estimate how long each carving takes - some take weeks, some months.

As far as income is concerned, he does well - very well. One carving can fetch anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000. Some are even in the six figures. Besides 50 years' experience and obvious talent, a previous career in sales has helped him succeed.

In the late 1970s and early '80s, Monhollen worked as a sales representative in pharmaceutical sales and then metal sales. In 1981, he was offered a promotion and transfer.

But instead of taking the promotion, Monhollen quit. While working in sales, he discovered that 60 percent of the clients he sold to were making warfare products. While in Vietnam, Monhollen says he saw war firsthand and the experience damaged him in ways he's still figuring out. But perhaps more than that, he simply wanted to carve.

"I dove in the pond, paddling like crazy," he says in describing the leap from the corporate world to carving. "It isn't always an easy paddle." But he tries to do his work as

This bench was built by one of

Monhollen's friends 15 years ago.The oak tool cabinet at right, which he purchased from Sam's Club, keeps his tools accessible. His pocket knife - which he has used since he was 9 -is on the bench at the far left.

gently and with as much love as he can.

Monhollen remains, as he calls it, invisible to the public. He doesn't "do" art shows and he doesn't "do" galleries. When first starting out, he cranked out songbirds and sold them to state parks. But it felt like he was working on an assembly line, he says.

Then he read Nakashima's "The Soul of a Tree." The book inspired him so much that he traveled to Pennsylvania to walk the

author's property. Although he didn't get to meet Nakashima, the author's reverence for nature in his work inspired Monhollen when he returned to Kentucky to begin carving one-of-a-kind pieces for corporate executives that are inspired by nature.

For each of his birthdays Monhollen tries to do something new. On his 57 th birthday, he climbed the tallest tree on his property and tied a ribbon at the top. On his 59th, he was looking into his reflecting pond and suddenly dove in. There he swam wearing his clothes and sandals - paddling like crazy -and so glad he jumped in. PW

In his "dirty" shop, Monhollen stores thousands of board feet of lumber along with a bench and a few tools. Here he is working a piece of wood with a chisel and 3-pound mallet.


In the working shop is a cherry and walnut

bookshelf full of books that have inspired

Monhollen.They include:

• "The Artist's Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity" by Julia Camerson (J. P. Tarcher)

• "No Nature: New and Selected Poems" by Gary Snyder (Pantheon Books)

• "Payne Hollow Journal" by Harlan Hubbard (University Press of Kentucky)

• "The Soul of a Tree" by George Nakashima (Kodansha International)

• "A Timbered Choir" by Wendell Berry (Counterpoint)

36 Popular Woodworking February 2004

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