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Local artist didn't begin woodcarving until age 62

Local artist didn't begin woodcarving until age 62

Ralph Reise is a woodcarver living with his wife at Carroll Lutheran Village in Westminster. Reise began doing woodworking after he retired at age 62 from Westinghouse. His wife told him he had to be out of the house one day a week so he began to make furniture.

He made a queen-sized bed from cherry wood big enough to hold his wife's quilts. His wife, Dorothy ("Dot"), is a quilter.

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Reise has made night stands, wall cabinets for his house, tables and end tables. Reise also made his wife a music cabinet and he also made everyone in the family a quilt stand.

He went to South County Senior Center in Deal, Maryland to learn upholstery so that he could re-upholster furniture for his wife. While he was there, Joe Cauldwell had started to teach woodcarving. As a result, Reise decided to take the class. He was building a cabinet at the time and thought it might be fun to put carving on it.

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While he was in the class, Reise carved a pair of swans from butternut wood. They were 5 feet high. Everyone liked them so he made two more pairs for his children. He continued to take classes from Cauldwell and has done so on and off for 4 years. Most of the work he does in the class is small and is completed with X-acto knives using primarily bass wood.

Reise quit carving for a few years. During those years, his wood interest was in building sailing ship models. Then, Reise went to the new Senior Center in Annapolis and Caudwell was teaching woodworking again. At that time, Reise began to carve larger birds. Caudwell usually selects the birds to be carved, but individual members can bring in anything they are carving.

The class began to carve larger ducks. The classes were 10 weeks in length. One day a week the class carved from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. The first segment they carved the bird and did the texturing. They had graduated to using dremel tools.

The dremel tool he uses is 8 inches long, battery operated, and has rotary blades used to carve the wood. Different sized heads can be interchanged to make the cuts into the wood.

During the next 10 weeks the class painted the birds with acrylic paints. The instructor brought in pictures of the birds and the paints to do the projects. They were taught how to mix the colors they needed for each part of the birds.

Reise carves all kinds of birds as well as ducks while he is in class. He uses a piece of driftwood to mount the bird and that is mounted on another piece of good wood such as cherry or walnut.

"I like the challenge of convincing myself I can do it," he said. "My favorite piece is a Canadian goose landing."

He would like to do another owl. He has done two so far.

Reise has had his work displayed in the cabinets at Carroll Lutheran Village. His work also appears in their annual Creative Expressions book.

Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmos Art in Westminster. Her column appears on the first and third Wednesday of each month.

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