Carving has come natural to Skeeter Wilber, 84, of Jefferson.
“I’ve always liked carving. When I was a kid, I ran around with a jackknife in my pocket. I made things like knives and swords for myself and my friends to play with,” he says.
He carved pieces of wood, rabbit bones, anything that he could carve.
As he grew older, the carving fell by the wayside as Wilber pursued a career as an auto mechanic. He worked in a local garage for 45 years. He sold the garage in 1995.
“My wife and I did some traveling and we would stop in Branson, Mo., and see all the carvings. I would think, ‘I can do that,’ ’’ he says.
Skeeter’s wife and partner in teaching youngsters archery was Doreen Wilber. Doreen, then 42, won the 1972 archery gold medal for women in the Summer Olympics in Munich. She died of Alzheimer’s disease in Jefferson on Oct. 19, 2008. A bronze statue of Doreen can be found in Jefferson.
Both Doreen and Skeeter did some carving, and as Skeeter shows off some of the pieces, he points to some nicely-carved mountain goats Doreen carved.
“She was pretty good at it, too, but for some reason she didn’t pursue carving,” Skeeter says.
He now carves on a number of materials, including bark, a variety of hard and softwood, marble and other stone and deer antler. His subject matter is eclectic, but he particularly loves to carve outdoor scenes, often with a bit of whimsy.
For example, a bark carving of a mountain man has the mountain man as the focal point, but if you look into the hollows of the trees around him, a person can see a raccoon or maybe a family of squirrels.
Other carvings are majestic, such as an eagle in flight.
Often, the carvings begin as chunks of material, usually wood. He begins the process in his garage by cutting the wood down to the size he wants. Detail work is done in a work space in his house.
One of Doreen’s favorite carvings was a three-quarter scale wood model of a rooster that would go on a merry-go-round. Doreen had wanted one, so he did it. Now, nieces and nephews and other children play with the statue.
Skeeter said he found inspiration from one of the few original merry-go-round makers by the name of Denzel. He has also made smaller carousel carvings that have been mounted on walls.
Skeeter has no plan to stop carving anytime soon.
Contact Darren at 953-4822 ext. 304 or firstname.lastname@example.org to recommend someone for an upcoming issue of “What’s In Your Garage?”