Nectar for the soul: Whittle the Wood Stump 8’s Bongo Love revisits beloved summer site of Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Nectar for the soul: Whittle the Wood Stump 8’s Bongo Love revisits beloved summer site of Craig

Left: Bongo Love turns up the heat while working in the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous. Right: Love peers through the hummingbird and flowers of "The Sweet Life."
Andy Bockelman

With a dozen years under his belt at the annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, each time he returns to Craig becomes a little more special to Bongo Love.

The Zimbabwe native who lives on the Front Range looks forward to coming back to Northwest Colorado every opportunity he gets, and this year was no exception.

Love picked up prize money with third place in the 20th annual summertime event with the carving “The Sweet Life,” depicting a pair of hummingbirds gorging themselves on the nectar of flowers.

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)

He credited his daughter with helping pick the subject, and he was particularly pleased with the final outcome.

“She loves them,” he said. “This is one I actually like.”

Bongo Love’s “The Sweet Life” at the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman

The carving bears a passing resemblance to the hummers of 2014’s “That’s a Humdinger,” which festooned Craig for several years before being put up for auction this year.

Carvings up for auction during the 20th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman

Whereas the piece by former competitor Ted Scherer portrayed a brightly colored bloom, Love’s latest carving stays true to his trademark of wooden animals, ranging from a dragonfly on a cattail to seahorses to recent years with a parent elephant and giraffe with child, all of which make use of multiple shades of brown to convey shading.

Love utilized a flamethrower to get the right tone on the birds, flowers and stems.

Bongo Love leans on his carving of a mother and baby giraffe titled “Motherly Love.” Love won second place and $750 for the piece at the 19th annual Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman
Stump Bongo Love, of Lafayette, “Lord of the Flies” at the 2015 Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman
“Papi Love” at the 2016 Whittle the Wood Rendezvous.
Andy Bockelman

Love has placed in the carving competition on multiple occasions, including a win in 2010, though earning first place isn’t his ultimate goal given his enjoyment of the crowds that circulate each year and how he’s gotten to know so many folks.

“This is where I started carving. This is where everything started coming to life,” he said. “Without Craig, I wouldn’t be doing this.”

Still, the top honor is something he plans to win again.

“Next year, I’m gonna get it,” he said.