Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Mike Denaro, wood carver

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
Mike Denaro of Oyster Bay considers himself a folk artist. Carving is not his only artistic form of expression; Mike also does floor cloth, stained glass, and plays fiddle in his free time.

Mike, a second grade teacher, is a trained horticulturalist and confirmed nature lover. He walks in the woods at least once a week; couple of times a year he joins the organized trips of the Appalachian Mountain Club, the oldest conservation club in America, as a backpack leader.

An avid fishermen, he was not willing to shell out a large amounts of money on fishing decoys; got himself a piece of wood and a knife and carved his first decoy. Eventually his ice fishing decoys won prizes at juried shows. There is a science to making ice fishing decoys - lead is inserted into the belly to keep the wooden decoy fully immersed; it must sit in water horizontally like a live fish would.

Photo by Ewa Rumprecht
In the years that followed Mike's subjects varied from Americana, Christmas ornaments, fiddles to walking sticks.

He uses mostly basswood, but also butternut, dogwood, mountain laurel, and Eastern red cedar if he finds it during his rambles. He likes wormy wood, he feels it has more character. Mike applies colors rather sparingly and washes it out a lot to allow the grain to show a bit. The final coat is of floor wax, clearer or darker depending on the piece. In general, he prefers matted look; shine on the handles of his walking sticks comes from buffing the wax.

With the exception of a band saw to cut wood, all carving is done by hand. Mike prefers to work with knives over gouges which, technically speaking, makes his art whittling and not carving. Whatever the technicalities, the end results are captivating.

You will get a chance to meet Mike at the store on Saturday, March 12th, between 10 am and 12:30 pm, when he will be one of the instructors at the Introduction to Wood Carving event.

1 comment:

  1. Mike's creativity in multiple media (wood, glass, textiles, wax, hypertufa, plants, food, and life)as applied to many different crafts was an inspiration to many people. I had the fortunate opportunity to be graced by his personality/talents on a regular basis through my relationship with his Aunt Fran. His openly friendly demeaner was appreciated by everyone he encountered. Hopefully we all continue his passion for creativity and love of nature in every aspect of life. He is missed dearly, will never be forgotten, and still inspires me every day. Love you Mike.
    Your Uncle Hal