Mythical mastery: Whittle the Wood Stump 6’s Joe Srholez offers dragon that is no drag |

Mythical mastery: Whittle the Wood Stump 6’s Joe Srholez offers dragon that is no drag

Left: Joe Srholez displays the model he worked from to create "Xing Yun (Lucky)" in the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. Right: Srholez works on the dragon's features.
Andy Bockelman

In one part of the world, a certain magical creature is known for death and devastation, yet on the other end of the globe, the dragon is revered for good fortune. The latter is the type of energy Joe Srholez hoped to capture at the 2019 Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.

Srholez’s contribution for the 20th annual event was titled “Xing Yun,” which translates to “lucky” or “fortunate” in Mandarin — — with a depiction of a Chinese dragon.

20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous carvings

Stump 1 — Nate Hall — “Mountain Migraine”; Rams butting heads

Stump 2 — Matt Ounsworth — “20 for 20”; Animal totem (Second place)

Stump 3 — Jim Valentine — “Buckshot Bill”; Cowboy

Stump 4 — Damon Gorecki — “Wood Haven”; Bench

Stump 5 — Justine Park — “Home of the Brave”; Skull with feathered headdress

Stump 6 — Joe Srholez — “Xing Yun (Lucky)”; Dragon

Stump 7 — Chad Stratton — “Long Ago”; Wooly mammoth

Stump 8 — Bongo Love — “The Sweet Life”; Hummingbirds (Third place)

Stump 9 — Robert Lyon — “Horse of Course”; Horse

Stump 10 — Robert Waits —  The Lorax”; The Lorax (Artist’s Choice)

Stump 11 — Fernando Dulnuan — “The Lion of Judah”; Angel with lion and lamb

Stump 12 — Ken Braun — “Blue”; Velociraptor (First place, People’s Choice, Artist’s Choice)

“I’ve always thought the Asian style of dragon was cool, and I’ve had those in my head lately, I’ve been doing a bunch of them lately,” he said.

Srholez, who comes to Craig from Sweetwater, near Gypsum, is in his third year with WTW, and each of his entries thus far has focused on animals that are prominent in cultural stories.

A sly serpent coils around forbidden fruit in Joe Srholez’s “Temptation” at the 18th Whittle the Wood.
Andy Bockelman

2017’s “Temptation” showed the biblical serpent of the Garden of Eden coiled around an apple, while 2018’s “Phoenix Rising” was a firebird with a special message meant for firefighters and people displaced by wildfires at the time.

“Phoenix Rising” by Joe Srholez
Andy Bockelman

“There’s a lot of people struggling out there, so it’s a symbol of rebirth,” Srholez said in 2018 of the piece, which earned third place that year.

“Xing Yun” had a similar significance.

Joe Srholez’s “Xing Yun (Lucky)” at the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman

“Western dragons tend to be more wicked, and Eastern dragons bring more good luck,” he said.

Srholez said he considered himself fortunate to be working on the piece, recovering from recent partial knee replacement surgery, though a smaller scale dragon he carved helped him plan out the larger carving.

A close-up of “Xing Yun (Lucky)” by Joe Srholez.

The miniature model came from a log with dimensions of about two feet long by four inches wide compared to the Whittle stump he received, which was about 12 feet tall by two feet wide.

Still, the two aren’t quite identical.

“The way the wood was, I had to put his head the other way,” he laughed.

Joe Srholez sprays sawdust at the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman

Srholez also had a minor family emergency early in the competition, which kept him from staying on track the way he preferred. He was working on the dragon during Friday night rain, long after the other competitors had left Loudy-Simpson Park.

Still, he said the people at the event offered plenty of support.

“It’s awesome, as always,” he said. “Everyone’s been so nice out here, staff’s great, Dave Pike is great, so just a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who helps put this on.”


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