Raucous rams: Whittle the Wood Stump 1 carver Nate Hall a contender in first contest
After four days of competition at Whittle the Wood Rendezvous, Lincoln, Nebraska’s Nate Hall can count himself a seasoned competitor in one of Northwest Colorado’s premier events as he embarks on an ongoing career in the field of wood sculpture.
Besides being a novice in the field of a dozen carvers in Craig, Hall was also completely new to the game of competitive carving.
His entry in the WTW contest, “Mountain Migraine,” depicts a pair of rams knocking heads, an image he said was inspired by his first time in Colorado, leading him to portray the official state animal, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
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)
“When I was a kid, my first trip to Colorado was in Estes Park, and that was the first thing I saw, so I wanted to have something that was symbolic of the area,” he said.
Hall had to take on the toughness and tenacity of the namesake animal during the week, especially after a Friday night rainstorm that left the carving damp, preventing him from the wood-burning he had planned to do first thing Saturday morning.
Even so, he was able to get the sinew of the rams and the shading more or less the way he wanted it despite the setback.
“There’s certain things I’d do differently, but it’s my first stab at it,” he said. “I’ll be more prepared next time. Really excited to come back next year.”
As one of two first-time entrants in Whittle the Wood, Hall said he was grateful to be set up next to a long-time competitor, Matt Ounsworth, who was more than helpful in offering advice.
“Being around him and the other carvers has been really beneficial,” he said. “The only way I won’t come up next year is if my wife doesn’t let me, but I’m planning to bring her with me next time.”
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When you hear an unholy shriek or a cacophony of chest-pounding hundreds of feet high, you know you’re about to see something fantastic.