CAMDEN, Maine — Wood carving is not an easy craft, but those who practice it say it's rewarding. It relieves stress, puts your mind to work, and allows you to create a piece that can last a very long time.
William Brown has been a wood craft artist for many decades. Two years ago he opened the Maine Coast Workshop in the scenic seaside village of Camden with the goal of teaching the craft to others.
Williams started a scholarship for young people or teens who are interested in any of the classes he hosts at the workshop with professional woodworking artists who come from all parts of the country. He says it gives teens an opportunity to get an appreciate for the discipline. Williams is hoping he can get more sponsorship money to open the program for veterans.
Right now, Alexander Grabovetskiy is teaching a weeklong class to 15 people.
"Alex has been named the finest wood carver in the world after winning multiple international competitions," Williams told NEWS CENTER Maine.
Grabovetskiy is from Russia, and he was locked at a Soviet Russian jail for two years for speaking against the communist government. He says he stood up for basic human freedom and was persecuted for that.
"I was raised up in the Soviet Union and then ended up in jail for for my beliefs," Grabovetskiy said. "That's scary when they say only one opinion is allowed, and if I wouldn't carve I would not survive."
Grabovetskiy made a small amount of money inside jail making wood jewelry boxes.
The Maine Coast Workshop focuses on traditional hand tool skills and fine furniture making. The classes accommodate all skill levels.
"It just challenges your brain. You think in ways that you didn't think before. For me, I am not old by any means, but I'm getting older, and I'm really concerned about my memory and things like that, and being functional," James Call, who flew in from Utah to Maine for the weeklong class, said.
Brown said Grabovetskiy's professional carvings are not sanded.
"He doesn't have to [sand]. His carving is that smooth. That is extremely hard to do. Ask any carver," Brown said.
Grabovetskiy now lives in Florida with his family. He spends much of his time teaching online through his own page or doing to different workshops across the U.S. to teach people interested in learning how to carve wood.
Besides the classes, Grabovetskiy pieces can sell for more than six figures, and he's mostly hired by private families across the country for very exclusive pieces that can last him months or even years to make.
"The biggest challenge is visually seeing what you are doing from a flat piece of paper and then being able to make it into something that's three dimensional," Heidi Arnold, who also took Grabovetskiy's weeklong class, said.
Here is the link to the class schedule for the Maine Coast Workshop.
Click here for more information on the Maine Coast Workshop.
Click here if you want to learn more about Alexander Grabovetskiy and his craft work.