June 29, 2005
Whittlin' is another art that is vanishing fast in this country. When I was a boy, I always liked to hang around the "gossip bench," where the old men sat, chewed tobacco, told tall tales and whittled with their razor-sharp pocket knives all day.
Those old men could create wonders. I watched them pick up a piece of fresh-cut pine, test it for heft and feel, and then sit down to start whittling. When they were finished, they'd have a big pile of wood-shavings between their boots and the most wonderous carving you ever saw.
They could make dancing puppets, a perfectly ROUND ball inside a cube of wood that would rattle around when you shook it but wouldn't come out of the cube no matter what you tried, and miniature wooden Indians, just like the one that stood outside the tobacco shop in downtown Harlan, Kentucky.
I don't see many talented whittlers anymore. I kinda miss that, because I'm old enough now to warrant a spot on the "gossip bench" with the rest of the old men. I can chew tobacco and I can tell tall tales, but I never learned to whittle very well. My grandfather could do it. I can't.
But I wouldn't mind learning. Hell, kids like watching old men work wood that way, and if he's a polite kid while he watches (and don't think those little pitchers don't have BIG ears) and listens to the stories, he just MIGHT walk off with a hand-made toy and a lot of good stories to tell himself.
I did, many a time. I think that experience shows in my blog.
Alas, whittling is another part of my childhood that's going the way of the buggy-whip and the outhouse. That crap is obsolete today.
I DO NOT believe that we are better off as a society when whitting becomes a lost art.
I spent hours as a kid whittlin'. Of course all the finished products looked like vampire stakes, but that didn't stop me.
My son collected sticks in a lake this past winter when he went conoeing. They had the bark chewed off in interesting patterns by beaver. Taraz carved patterns in them, decorated them, and gives them away as "Power Sticks" to friends. About 30 of them are on my coffee table.
I love to whittle I was tough at an early age by my dad. I had an Old Henry pocket knife(which I still have) and would sit for hours carvin up sticks or what ever we could find.Now my son and I carve "crazy heads" out of the early falling pears. We will sit and carve out wierd looking heads and then let them sit and turn brown. Some of the stuff he does is pretty creative. We will graduate to sticks when he learns a little more knife control. So worry not Rob whittlin aint dead yet.
still whittle some-not worth a damn but enjoy killing time with my pocket knife. Had an uncle who could whittle a chain linked together out of a two by four. Never figured how he did it. I think it took him a couple of years. Looked pretty good when he got done with it but he just tossed it away and started on something else.
I believe its called brandishing a weapon thses days.
Whittling sounds like a great way to pass the time on a long flight. Do you think they would mind the shavings?
Don't let Bill Whittle read this post!
Just sayin, is all.
Sloop New Dawn
Ronnie Durden knew how, he was good, remember him? Cat
Sure do, Cat. Bill Roberts wasn't bad, either. I saw Bill make one of those wooden chains once. I STILL don't know how he did that.
My grandaddy used to whittle. He made me a horse once when I was real little, 3 or so. He died before he could teach me how. :(
I had a friend that carved ducks. Always said their was nothing to it. Take a block of wood and carve away anything that doesn't look like a duck.
seems like the old farts in LaRue Co. liked red cedar they made mostly spoons and various examples of "honeys home" when the makers was out lol
Whittlin' and whistlin' are both dying arts in tis country. I, for one, will miss them. They both spoke of a relaxed attitude towards life.
I also grew up with the smell of cedar and tobacco spit. And after many years as a professional carver and teacher I've come to know the differance between whittlin and carving. When you whittle you loose all intentions. The meditation is in the area where the blade meets the wood. Its the sound of your knife slicing through the long grain, the curl of wood as it forms and falls off the end to the floor, like a breath before a new tale begins.
We should all learn to whittle before we start to carve.
BEEN WHITTLING AND TEACHING WHITTLING FOR OVER TEN YEARS NOW . YOUNG PEOPLE ARE AMAZED AT IT BUT IT'S TOO SLOW FOR THEM IN THIS HIGH TECH WORLD . THAT'S ASHAME .. BUT PEOPLE ARE STILL AMAZED AT SOMEONE WHO CAN TAKE A BLOCK OF WOOD AND CARVE A FIGURE OUT OF IT . EVERYTIME I SIT AND WHITTLE WHERE PEOPLE ARE .. THEY STOP AND CANT BELIEVE THEIR EYE'S THAT ANYONE EVEN DOES IT ANYMORE . IT IS A DIEING ART .. I GUESS THAT'S WHY . IT SADENS ME SO .