Carousel Wally a No-Go
In 2019, master carver Steve Arment* and the Josephy Center for Arts & Culture teamed up to get funding for a Wallowa County Carousel with native animals. I have always been a little obsessed with the Wallowa Lake Monster so Steve approached me with the idea of adding Wally to the carousel, and how would I like to carve it! I had taken one carving class from Steve in the past and jumped at the idea of working with him again ... plus it would make a great addition to my 55x55 project. Artist Anna Vogel,* known for her large-scale paintings, would also be making a carving and I would get to work with her as well! Then Covid happened and the project was canceled. But Anna and I thought we'd go ahead and carve.
I did some sketches and worked on a few designs with Sculpey clay because I wanted to see how they worked in 3D. (I'm including this early one because it ended up looking like a seahorse and still makes me laugh.) Steve helped me think through all of the considerations of making a carousel animal that is comfortable to sit on and not dangerous to small children. Anna was working on a mythological-type bird (non-carousel). We made full-size patterns (mine was 6ft x 6ft!) and met at Steve's wonderful barn studio where he cut out, and we glued together, the general shape of our pieces.
Since mine was so massive, I started with just the head. It was now getting to be late fall and Anna and I were set up in my garage to start carving. I traced the pattern on the top and sides and started chipping away with a chisel and mallet. The weather turned, and my fingers couldn't handle my cold garage. Plus, I like to park my car inside during snow season so we packed up our projects to continue in the spring. Over the winter, I kept second guessing the logistics of a project of this size and weight. It would have been great for a carousel, but not great if I can't sell it as a piece of art. If nobody bought it, where was I going to put it? I wouldn't be able to get it in my house. Steve thought for sure I could sell it, and I appreciated his faith and enthusiasm in me, but this was my first serious carving. Ultimately I decided to save the pattern and what I've done so far, but go smaller and carve Bookcase Wally or Toy Box Wally or something more moveable! Then hopefully Josephy Center will try again to get funding for a carousel and I will continue where I left off, but with some needed experience.
Turning an art gallery into a circus, renovating an old country mansion, and building a carousel by hand are only a few of Steve’s feats. He started his career crafting antique-style
couches, and worked for the world’s premier carousel animal company. He has been featured on OPB's Artbeat, his artwork has been shown in galleries, and his custom pieces adorn many private collections around the country.
In 2013 Steve, and his then fiance, bought an old Victorian homestead and began to renovate it. Old House Journal Magazine published an article. Check it out here.
Anna and Steve worked together on parts of The OK Theater renovation. And among many other projects, Anna has recently completed a mural at the Wallowa Library. Article