Sunday, July 6, 2008

Origin Of Pick Up Sticks

I have had people ask me why my blog is called "Pick up Sticks". If you look at the actual IP address, it is wordcarvin.blogspot.

When I was growing up, one of the people that I admired was an "Uncle" who carved wooden chains and other things. I was always amazed at what he could create with a pocket knife and a piece of wood. When I got to college, I became invovled in an outdoor youth program, for which I worked as a counselor for four years. During this time, I began to whittle, trying to create some of the things that I had seen my "Uncle" create. I think the first thing I ever carved was a wooden spoon, which I used while out in the mountains on this outdoor program. I carved a new spoon each week, and they gradually began to get more elaborate. I even carved one for my director's new born son that had a ball in a cage in the handle. Before long, I had started trying other things, including the wooden chains that I so admired. My initial creations were quite rough, but I was as proud of my first five link chain as of anything I had ever done.

The program I was working for required a great deal of hiking, and in fact I added up the mileage that I covered during that time to somewhere around 2400 miles in my association with the program. Naturally when hiking that many miles, and liking to carve and whittle, I started carving walking sticks. Again, my initial efforts were just basic sticks, functional, but not much to them. It became a tradition for me to burn this stick in the middle of the last campfire of each week. Then, one week, my co-counselor for the week (we were paired up as "ma" and "pa" to a group of participants) aksed if she could keep the stick rather than have me burn it, and I agreed. The next thing I knew, every counselor in camp was asking for the next stick. So as not to disappoint anyone, I agreed to carve walking sticks for anyone who wanted one as long as they found a good serviceable stick, and told me what they wanted it to look like. This tradition continued over the next four and half years and beyond. I have carved over 300 sticks. Some more elaborate than others. Some just had the person's name. Others had eagles, bears, and fish.

I don't carve as much as I used to now, I just don't seem to have the time, but I still watch for a good sound walking stick whenever I am out in the mountains, and I still carve for people who are special to me. SO remember the rules: Find a good sound stick (I prefer to carve aspen); decide what you want the stick to look like; give me the stick with your description.

I don't guarantee a work of art, just a work of heart.

Take care. Stick.


Delirious said...

You carved me a turtle box once....I think you still have the scars ;)

Nene said...

Mr L and I LOVE our walking sticks! Thank you so much for taking the time to do them for us! We will always treasure them!

Inside Stories said...

I knew exactly why you called it Pick Up Sticks, :0)

Lindsay-Weaver said...

I remember you carving in the summertime at Grandma's house. I thought it was awesome. I think Mom has one of those wooden rattles somewhere...amazing.