Finding out what’s in a block of wood

The annual Charlotte Woodcarvers Club showcase will return to south Charlotte this weekend, bringing with it some of the most popular cartoon characters of all time.

(Above) Patrons look through the hundreds of pieces of art at last year’s show. (Below) The theme of last year’s show was the Wild West. This year is Cartoon Caricatures.

Patrons look through the hundreds of pieces of art at last year’s show. 

The Showcase of Woodcarvings 2014 will take place Saturday, Feb. 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 23, from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the Marion Diehl Recreation Center, 2219 Tyvola Road. This year’s theme is cartoon caricatures, giving families with young children an additional reason to go see the 700 different carvings that will be on hand.

“We’ve got five Caricature Carvers of America members (coming) that are some of the best caricature carvers in the nation,” said Ray Branch, one of the event’s organizers. Those carvers will be joined by another 120 carvers, including renowned artist Tom Wolfe – who will give amateur carvers a block of wood and ask them “to find out what’s in it,” Branch said – and others who will host demonstrations, sell their creations and entertain a packed house in what has become one of the largest, if not the largest, woodcarving shows in the Southeast.

“The growth has been tremendous,” Branch said. “In 2013, we sold the venue out with professional carvers and vendors, and a lot of carvings were sold. We’ve sold out again this year and have a waiting list.”

Carvings and demonstrations will be spread throughout the rec center, where families can walk among the aisles and see a variety of works. While the theme is caricatures, carvers will have creations that range from different animals in their natural habitat, people in action, artistic designs and more. There also will be six carving seminars spread throughout the two days, different carving competitions and information about the John C. Campbell Folk School, which is offering a five-day free tuition class in any of its courses.

The show, while being a vital venue for local carvers to gain customers and fans, also is a key recruiting tool for the Charlotte Woodcarvers Club. The club has grown to 143 members, and annually picks up a number of members after each show. They gather each Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at Woodcraft in Matthews, 1725 Windsor Square Drive, and from 3 to 7:30 p.m. at the Cathcart Center at Carmel Presbyterian Church, 2048 Carmel Road. The events give carvers a chance to come together each week and work on their creations, while new members who join after each annual showcase receive a series of eight free woodcarving classes to teach them the basics.

And while not everyone who joins the club attends each week, Branch is pleased with the club’s progress.

“People come in from out of town for the show and end up joining the club,” Branch said. “We see these guys as ambassadors who spread the news about what we do to other parts of the country.”

Find more information about this weekend’s show at www.


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