A Little Background About
How It All Started!
American Sign & Wood Carvers
is the name I incorporated in 1986 when I open
my woodcarving business with sculptor Michael DeNike at his American
Woodcarving School in Wayne, New Jersey. I have been a professional
carver since 1976
My involvement in woodcarving actually
dates back to my teenage years. However, it was never pursued, I had
chose first to get involved in engineering and technical design.
Than moving on to commercial art, working in and around New York
City. This lead to my becoming a freelance artist, during which time
I met DeNike in the early 1970's. I had worked on some illustrations
and designs for him. In 1976 while illustrating a carving book for
Michael, he gave me a set of carving tools which he just imported from
England. Although it was his intention for me to abuse them as a
test of their quality, you could say they actually changed the direction
of my life. With in the next few months I learned as much as
possible from both Mike and Jarvis Boone, a woodcarver with a shop in
Sugar Loaf, New York. It was Jarvis who recommended that I learn to
Six months later in 1977, I relocated to Bellingham,
Washington where he opened up my first woodcarving studio, the Custom Carving Studio on Dupont
Street just above the harbor. I also taught my woodcarving skills at
Fairhaven College. I maintained by studio until 1982 when
I split my time between carving at the Wooden Boat at Marina del Rey,
California and the Center For Wooden Boats on Lake Union in Seattle,
During these years on the west coast, I
became interested in wooden boats and nautical carving and almost half my
works were for boat owners. For several years I did workshops at the
Foundation For Wooden Boats in Port Townsend, Washington and wooden boat
shows in Anacortes, Port Townsend, and Seattle. When I went to
California, I maintained a workshop in the back of a converted bus which I
took to various boat shows and marinas from southern California, Oregon,
to northern Washington. The bus actually served as a living
portfolio of my skills as a builder, cabinet maker, and woodcarver.
Using the bus as my introduction, I rebuilt boats from the water line up,
remodeled interiors of yachts and created many carved teak
Also, during my time in the LA area, I
was hired by a Beverly Hills antique dealer to repair carvings and damaged
antiques. I did this for him until 1986 when I headed east to teach
at the American Wood Carving School and help Michael open a carving shop
we named American Sign and Wood Carvers.
Within the first year, Michael decided
that he really didn't want to have a commercial shop but wanted to pursue
his sculpture, thereby leaving me to deal with the business of sign
carving. Although I had originally only planned on heading West
after the first year, I remained on
the East and stayed through 1992 when I left for Taos,
New Mexico. During this time I did bronze sculpture, commissioned
woodcarvings, signs, antique repairs, furniture, and custom doors. I
stopped teaching at the carving school in 1990 and relocated in Hunt
Valley, Maryland where I taught at Craftwoods.
After arriving in Taos, I opened Artes
del Lobo, a woodcarving studio just south of the plaza. I
continued doing workshops at Craftwoods, making the trip back to
Maryland once or twice a year until 1994 when I started teaching at the
University of New Mexico until the spring of 2000.
In 1994 after a ski injury I closed the
studio and worked at a home studio in Valdez where I lived. In 1998
Linda and I purchased a five acre parcel of land west of the Taos Gorge
and within a mile of the Carson Post
Office. During the summer of 1999 we relocated to our property
and by October I started to build my permanent studio. Artes del
Lobo and American Sign & Wood Carvers reopened in March of
2000, I held my first carving workshop at the studio that summer.
It was now time to think about moving out
of the converted school bus which served me so well since my days at
Marina del Rey. So in October 2000 I broke ground for our home, we moved
to the house in the beginning of 2001 only a few months after a stray wolf
dog mix claimed our closet as its home. She has been a part of our
family ever since. Of course there were still
some things which needed to be done.
Late in 2003 while working I got talked
into taking over one of my clients Solar Business. So I added that to
our mix with the hope that Linda will someday get more involved with it.
Between the Solar and the Woodcarving and our small "ranch", I keep myself
well entertained. Oh yes, lets not forget skiing during the winter!
Most of my work comes from the Internet,
with my customer base being international. I still exhibit from
time to time at art galleries but I really enjoy the new markets the
Internet has provided. I am providing my clients with custom carved signs, nautical
carvings, custom doors and gates, sculpture and antique renovations and it is all just an E-mail
Now you have a pretty good idea of who I
am, so when you look at one of my wonderful creations, you will have some
understanding about the person behind the work.
I guess, you could say that I am
passionate about carving. There is something about wood that is so
inviting yet at the same time it is always a challenge. I love the
idea of taking a piece of wood and either bring out a design which
enhances its beauty or taking a piece of wood and converting it into piece
of art. Whether it is a sculpture, a relief carving, a repair, or a
carved sign I see them all as a the making of a work of art.
I believe that one of the main things
that makes people appreciate something is when they value it. As for
myself, I did not value the very thing I am now passionate about until I
was given the tools by Michael. It wasn't until I started cutting
into my very first carving that I realize that carving required skill and
dedication. Every cut was either a thing of beauty or the creation
of a disastrous ending to the piece you were working on. Every
carving is a challenge. With this said, I have been educating people
not only about carvings but also about how to do carvings. I love to
share my skills with others, because the more carvers there are, the more
selection and quality there is for the buying market.
I work hard at providing the best I
can. I adapted this theory from Jarvis, he said "I may not
always do the greatest works, but I do the best I can." And
that is exactly what I have been striving for since the day I carved my
first carving in 1976. I use what I feel are the best woods and
finishes for the job. Over the years I have done a lot of
experimenting especially with glues and finishes and can honestly stand
behind what I do. As for finishes I have seen and heard all the
arguments. I know that in some cases the newer products are better
and in some cases they're not. There are some woods and products I
refuse to use. But the products I do use, give you the best product
I can provide. I know the importance of extra coats of finish to
protect my signs form the elements. I also know that not everyone
wants to pay for the extra time and material, so I provide a better than
most finish. This means I provide at least three coats of
finish. For those who feel they want an even better finish, I
provide what I refer to as a Marine Finish. This is six coats of
paint or seven coats of spar varnish (it is also the finish I recommend on
all signs which are having gold applied to them).
A great number of
my carvings and signs are designed by myself, however I can work from your designs or layouts.
I can carve your existing logo or carve in any language as long as long as
you provide an easy to
So if you are looking for a great sign or
wood carving for yourself, your business, your boat, or as a special
custom gift, I have provide numerous examples of my work. So please
take a look at what I have done for many others and than lets see what I
can do for you.
American Sign & Wood Carvers signs are hand crafted of the finest
materials and woods available. The natural finished signs
maybe crafted from Mahogany, Teak, Walnut, Oak,
Butternut, Cedar, and Pine. For
painted carved signs I use Sugar
White Pines, or Foam board. For
sandblasted signs I use Foam board
or any other old growth
furniture, cabinets, other woodworking projects and sculpture, the materials
mainly depend on the project and the clients desires.