SENSE OF HUMOR INFUSES PAYNE’S WOOD CARVING
Frank Payne’s specialty is making walking sticks and canes with hand carved handles to delight the eye and tickle the funny bone. Make your choice from dozens of animals, birds and creatures from history or mythology. And yes, Virginia, there is a Santa or two ready to take a walk with you.
What’s the difference between a walking stick and a cane?
“It’s a matter of length,” Frank says. “A walking stick is longer than a cane and it’s used by hikers or folks planning to walk in the woods where they may need something to brace their footing in rough terrain. A cane offers support for normal walking when you have trouble with balance.”
There’s nothing Frank enjoys more than sitting on the front porch with his wife, Darlene, whittling away on a piece of wood or walking along a Lake Erie beach near his home gathering driftwood with carving potential.
“I think it’s important to enjoy what you do. It reflects in your work.”
During the years he worked as superintendent of the local public works department, he sometimes carved caricatures of friends and before long, requests for his work multiplied.
“Public works includes waste management and everyone agrees that isn’t too inspiring. My caricatures added a few smiles to the day.”
Self-taught, Frank explored carving on various surfaces and found he much preferred three-dimensional carving on basswood that is both light weight and sturdy. He believes it’s also the best medium for putting a humorous twist into wooden replicas of animals and people.
Before carving became a big part of his life, he and his three sons built furniture they marketed at Shaker Woods. He prized these years because of the time they enjoyed together as a family. In his opinion, this is the place to meet the nicest people in the world.
“I’d say it was 1985-86, the boys began to hint that they’d like to do something different. Much as they liked building furniture and hanging out at festivals, they needed to spend more time with their families. One day, they brought me a book on carving and suggested it might not be so labor intensive. I liked the idea, but I put the book on a shelf and began to carve by trial and error.”
He found he had a natural talent for it and what’s more it was fun to see something in his mind and watch it come to life under the knife.
“I’ve been carving for twenty years and I never tire of it,” the Girard, Pennsylvania man says, “My wife loves the shows. I call her my PR person. Darlene is naturally outgoing and loves talking to people at Shaker Woods. She shows off our collection of carvings while I stick to whittling in The Woods.”
Every piece of his work is an original. Try out a walking stick for size and comfort in your hand. Buy it for usefulness and for the pleasure of its value as a piece of genuine artwork. You may choose a stick with a mountain man or Native American in a natural finish or choose a red, white and blue Uncle Sam or bald eagle. Dozens of choices range from the ominous cobra to the friendly family dog.
You won’t want to miss an array of Santa figures that span the changing eras of history. They vary in size from 1 and ¾ inches to a foot tall. Start a collection and expect new models every year. Buy them for gifts for the most special people on your list. Chubby or thin, short or tall, these colorful figures will add sparkle to your holiday gift giving.
Prices for walking sticks vary from $60-$85; canes from $50 - $65. Santas range in price from $20 to $130 depending on size and complexity of design. Some Santas carry their own walking sticks!