The Lycoming County Woodcarvers use Monday mornings to improve their woodworking skills at the Messiah Senior Community Center in South Williamsport, as they gather most every week around brightly lit benches and chat while working.
The group welcomes beginners, but also boasts among its 16 members a number of longtime carvers.
Members say that the group began in the 1960s, when an East End electrician with the last name of Perry held carving sessions in his garage. After the founder passed, the group started meeting in Loyalsock Township schools before moving to South Williamsport.
John Kramer, East End, started carving in the 1950s, while serving in the military, and got back into the hobby when he joined the group in the 1970s.
Kramer is perfectly willing to help show new members techniques, no matter what their preference in design.
"Some like the statues, some like the flat ones," he said. "And some just like to make firewood."
Sometimes, though, novice carvers come in with unrealistic expectations.
"Sometimes you get someone who comes in, it's October, and they say 'I want to make a Santa Claus by November,' " said Kramer.
The Woodcarvers keep a cabinet full of tools and wood at the senior center for use by members while there, but most of the longtimers have their own toolkits, too.
Robert Scott, Newberry, shows his kit, which includes honing stones made of yellowstone and diamond, for a very fine surface, and Quik Wood, a sort of wood-like epoxy.
"We're not perfect," said Scott. "Sometimes you need to fill in your mistakes."
Though it's fine to carve designs based on trademarked works, if one advances to a point where that work is sold, it's best to alter those designs, said Kramer.
"Books and magazines teach you how to carve, but they don't teach you about the copyright infringement," he said.
The pieces put on display include all sorts of flat and three-dimensioned relief carvings, including a few that also are painted, and plenty of figurines.
Subjects of the statues include Disney characters, a lifesized ruffled grouse and even the Little League World Series newsboy mascot, made by Bill Swinehart, Williamsport.
The Messiah Senior Center is funded by the STEP Inc. Office of Aging for Lycoming and Clinton counties, which also supports seven other centers, transportation, employment counseling and in-home services in the region.
The Lycoming County Woodcarvers meet at 9 a.m. Mondays at the Messiah Senior Community Center, 324 Howard St., South Williamsport.