ELDERSBURG — With knives, gouges and power tools, one club is literally carving out a niche for itself in the county.
The Carroll Carvers will be showing their wares at an exhibition and competition from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Saturday at the Nature Center in Piney Run Park, which members say is ideal for their first show.
The park features living inspiration year-round, said Bernice J. Culver, club president. Most members are waterfowl carvers and often take cues from nature. Culver said she takes her binoculars and scansthe park's wildlife every chance she gets, looking for ideas.
"The park is a great source for us," she said. "Ducks migrate through there. Mallards, puddle ducks and geese live there all year. A few years ago, someone sighted a bald eagle."
Two members have aviaries --havens for birds and waterfowl -- and encourage others to visit, sketch or photograph the animals.
"We try to draw from as many sources as we can," said Culver, who keeps a file of feathered animals. "Seeing the real thing, though, helps develop ideas."
The club's membership has grown from 20 to 50 members since it began about two yearsago. At monthly meetings, conducted at the park, members share techniques, critique each others' works, and hear guest speakers.
"We try to introduce new and fresh ideas and generate excitement for our craft," Culver said. "We decided to get our feet wet with a show."
Show chairman and club secretary Kris K. Persh said about 25 people will compete for ribbons, which will be awarded in novice and advancedclasses.
Judges for the event are Richard Owens, art teacher at Francis Scott Key High School, and two professional carvers, Mark Stroehman of Baltimore County and Laurie Brown of Taneytown.
Persh, who does three-dimensional relief carvings, will exhibit a full-size M-16 rifle carved out of walnut. After devoting about 400 hours to the project, she's eager to see what the judges think about it.
"During competitions, the judges tell exhibitors what they like and why," said Persh, who has been carving for about 15 years and has participated in other shows. "Winning a blue ribbon is exciting. It gives our members something to strive for."
Culver said she was surprised at the number of people interested in carving. From the wood shop in herNew Windsor home, she teaches beginners, who use hand tools, as wellas advanced carvers, who bring their own power tools.
"I do hands-on instruction, showing each step and working with my students," shesaid.
Culver studied art at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh and has always worked with her hands. She made the switch from oil painting to wood about nine years ago and makes use of her art background in designing and painting her carvings.
"I haven't done any flat art since I started carving," she said. "I love the three-dimensional effect that you can't get on a canvas."
At the show, the club is raffling off Culver's carving of a kestrel, a bird of prey. Proceeds from the drawing will be used to purchase materials for members' use.
The park, at 30 Martz Rd., charges a $3 per vehicle admission. Admission to the carving show is free. For information, call 795-3274.