Woodcarvers share tips with next generation of artists at Eudora Heritage Festival

Retired teacher Joan Smith discovered she had talented hands when she found herself without enough to keep them busy.

“When my granddaughter went to kindergarten for the first time, I didn’t know what I would do with all the time on my hands,” she said.

The rural Eudora resident was introduced to woodcarving through a friend, who was a member of Kaw Valley Woodcarvers. She joined the club, and soon found that the hobby more than filled the idle hours.

Smith said she has learned various techniques during the club’s monthly carve-ins. Works such as a relief carving of a wolf howling at the moon, a three-dimensional rustic cabin and a patterned plate demonstrated the progress she’s made since she took up the craft six years ago.

“I wasn’t artistic at all, but if you gave me a pattern, I could duplicate it,” she said. “It’s absolutely wonderful. I always have something I can do, and I always have something I want to do.”

On Saturday, Smith arranged for a handful of her fellow club members to have a booth at the Eudora Heritage Festival, which was founded by Eudora resident Debbie Carden six years ago as a way to celebrate Eudora’s history and raise money for local nonprofits.

The Kaw Valley Woodcarvers were one of a number of living history demonstration groups at the event. At their booth, they exhibited samples of their work and gave demonstrations in the craft to children.

Club member Katrina Meredith, of Topeka, said the children weren’t in any danger of cutting themselves with sharp tools in the demonstrations because they were carving objects from soap.

“It’s the same techniques we use with wood,” she said. “It gets them interested. We came with 60 bars of soap. We’re down to 20.”