JERICHO, Vt. (WCAX) For more than 20 years a Jericho man has been collecting chisels he uses to shape picturesque scenes into Made in Vermont wood art.
"This isn't work for me, it's play," said Joe Gordon, carving the latest project in his Jericho workshop. He likens himself to a tattoo artist. "You don't want to go and pick something that's on the wall, something somebody else already has. You give them a couple of ideas of what you like and that artist gives you a rendition of what you're looking for."
Gordon has had a fascination with carving since he was six, after watching his mother carve a tool set out of wood for his brother. He got his first Swiss Army knife at seven.
"I was whittling everything, didn't matter if I was making anything or not. As long as I was carving on something I was happy," he said.
VT WoodWork features relief carving -- putting a picture into the wood. On this day Gordon is working on a mantle for a family in Colchester.
He uses photos in order to make his objects to scale. Then he draws on the wood before carving away. The project will take about six weeks to complete. "I want to put some pieces of art out there that no one else can do," he said.
Gordon spent four years in the Marines -- he was never deployed. At 22 he became a carpenter.
He prefers harder woods like mahogany and cherry, but he did use soft wood for his signature piece. "It took about nine-months. It's actually the biggest piece I've ever done, but it's also the fastest piece I've ever done for the size," Gordon said.
He says he doesn't know how many chisels he's collected over the years, but there are two styles he uses the most. The first is a V-chisel, which allows him to get angles. The second is called a gouge, and depending on the size, gives him that nice curve. "The ones on the lower shelves are a little bit older. The ones on the middle shelves are a little more expensive tools -- the ones I enjoy using the most," he said.
A former Marine chiseling success out of solid wood.