John Lime figures it took him about eight months to make his wood clock. Most of the work was done with a scroll saw, including the intricate cogs. Some pieces were lathed and a few items, like the spring and bearings, were purchased.
"I had to call all the way to London, England, to get the spring," he said. "They were real excited to be talking to Alaska."
The result is on display at the Northway Mall, the first-place winner in the Wood Scrolling category at the 10th Annual Artistry in Wood competition and exhibit.
Artistry in Wood is the only wood art show in Alaska, said Cindy McDowell of Alaska Creative Woodworkers' Association, which sponsors it. It's one of several art-themed events that take place during Fur Rendezvous, and arguably the most eye-popping. Those of us who can't cut a right angle with a miter saw can only wonder at the skill and patience involved in creating lifelike animals, perfectly joined furniture, musical instruments and wildly imaginative machines -- not to mention a clock that actually works -- all out of wood.
For "Creel of Dreams," first-place winner in the Wood Carving category, Ron Ginter used a complex variety of woods. There's spruce roots for the handle, trout carved from bass wood and tupelo, a "leather" strap made from birch knee wood, which Ginter explained is a piece of wood that's grown in a curve, letting the carver follow the grain instead of cutting across it. The creel basket is carved from a solid log of cottonwood. An accompanying net features bent alder and cherry wood. Even the grass in the creel is made from bamboo.
Wolves, bears, birds, moose and other critters are a popular subject for Alaska woodworkers. There's even a snake-headed cane by Floyd Brooks, which Lime described as "Biblical."
Several pieces have mechanical motion of some kind. Some are functional, including several beautiful chests, shelves and chairs. Others are purely decorative, even abstract. And a lot of carvers seem to enjoy having fun with human figures. There's a large display of comic caricatures by John Smith, Larry Jelle's "Drinking Cowboy" and an array of six parka-clad figures around an igloo by Cindy Anthony.
The association, which has members statewide, not only organizes the competition, McDowell said, but also has classes where members of the public can learn about the craft and hone their own skills in various woodworking styles. More information is available at alaskacreativewoodworkers.org.
Artistry in Wood will be on display through March 2 during mall hours at the Northway Mall, 3103 Penland Parkway. First-place winner in the Wood Turners category is Trudy Carlson and first-place honors in the Wood Working division are shared by Charles Sappah and Ben Webber.
Here's a look at other Rondy-time art happenings:
• GCI Snow Sculpture Competition, a competition in which artists carve 8-by-8 blocks of snow into fanciful images, throughout the week across from the Comfort Inn on Ship Creek.
• Iditarod Movies for the Whole Family, at various times at Alaska Experience Theatre, 333 W. Fourth Ave. Details at alaskaexperiencetheatre.com.
• "The Alaskavengers vs. Dr. Despicable," the annual Rondy Melodrama presented by Alaska Sound Celebration, full of music and cornball humor, a regular sell-out. This year's tomfoolery involves super-powers that you won't find in the comic books. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 5 p.m. Sundays, with matinees at 3 p.m. Saturdays and 1 p.m. Sundays through March 8 at Snow Goose Theater, 717 W. Third Ave. Tickets (and you really do need to get them in advance) at centertix.net.
• Craft Alaska Arts & Grafts Show, throughout the week at the Fourth Avenue Marketplace, 333 W. Fourth Ave.
• Open Art Display, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through the week at the Anchorage Senior Activity Center, 1300 E. 19th Ave.
• Native Musicale, gospel music from all over Alaska. If you've ever lived in the Bush, you'll meet people you know all over again and maybe hear them sing for the first time. Performances start at 7 p.m. Monday-Friday at ChangePoint Auditorium, 6689 Changepoint Dr.
• Charlotte Jensen Native Arts Market, the biggest Alaska Native arts and crafts event in the state, with more than 150 vendors, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday at Dimond Center, 800 E. Dimond Blvd.
• Amateur Photo Contest, during mall hours through the week at the Mall at Sears, 600 E. Northern Lights Blvd.
• Great Alaska Talent Competition. Preliminaries were held earlier. Find out who goes all the way at 5 p.m. March 2 in the auditorium of Bartlett High School.
Reach Mike Dunham at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4332.
By MIKE DUNHAM