Cutting edge artistry on display at Wheaton woodcarving show

  • John Henderson of Broadview carves "Alien #2" at his booth Sunday during the "Artistry in Wood" expo presented by North Suburban Carvers at Wheaton's Cantigny Park.

      John Henderson of Broadview carves "Alien #2" at his booth Sunday during the "Artistry in Wood" expo presented by North Suburban Carvers at Wheaton's Cantigny Park. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Bill and Gretchen For of Aurora look over some basswood carvings by Shelly Weiser of Naperville on Sunday during the "Artistry in Wood" expo at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

      Bill and Gretchen For of Aurora look over some basswood carvings by Shelly Weiser of Naperville on Sunday during the "Artistry in Wood" expo at Cantigny Park in Wheaton. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Terry Evans of North Riverside creates his designs with wood burning tools. Evans had his work on display Sunday at the "Artistry in Wood" expo presented by North Suburban Carvers at Wheaton's Cantigny Park.

      Terry Evans of North Riverside creates his designs with wood burning tools. Evans had his work on display Sunday at the "Artistry in Wood" expo presented by North Suburban Carvers at Wheaton's Cantigny Park. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 4/29/2018 5:35 PM

The Visitors Center at Cantigny Park in Wheaton hosted some true cutting edge artists Sunday.

The "Artistry in Wood" woodworking show featured the North Suburban Carvers, whose wares impressed visitors with their intricate detail.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"You have people who carve really fine art pieces," said show visitor Barb Evans of Geneva. "It's fun to see the variety."

Don Szypura, a member of the organization, said proceeds from items sold during the show benefit the Shriners Hospital for Children in Oak Park.

Szypura showcased small items with a Christmas theme, including a Santa figure he fashioned.

"It's creating something with your own hands," he said in describing the appeal of woodcarving. "Taking your own imagination and putting it into an object. And it becomes an art form."

The artistry of Shelly Weiser was clearly in evidence, with some pieces as high as three feet tall. The Naperville carver's work included six Art Deco dancers wearing period costumes, a relief carving of hummingbirds and dragonflies and a slumbering Rip Van Winkle entangled in vines.

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Weiser, who works in basswood, is something of a late bloomer. He began woodcarving 16 years ago, at the age of 75. The former salesman attended a show and became so interested in woodcarving that he took lessons from a master carver.

Among those admiring his work was Wheaton resident Pat Cain, a woodworker who has repaired and built furniture.

"This is encouraging," he said. "I'll be 73. Maybe I should start something."

LeRoy Fennewald of West Chicago, who calls himself an amateur historian, exhibited several vintage cars carved out of wood and lathered with paint. Among them was a 1930s-vintage Squire built out of Spanish cedar.

One curiosity on his display table was a tiny figure of something called "Torture Tub #2," an "outhouse on wheels" consisting of a toilet, in the bowl of which appeared a helmeted figure with hands grasping a steering wheel. The tub bore the number 2.

Fennewald said basswood is the easiest wood to work with.

"It's a bit softer, doesn't split and it's a fairly featureless would," he said. " So it doesn't have a grain which would detract from something."

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