Midway wood carver George Ginter said he would like to pass on his craft to younger people someday, to share his knowledge and ensure the art of wood carving continues.
“Eighty percent of the people at the wood-carving seminars I attend are seniors,” Ginter said.
Ginter, 80, displayed some of his carvings for sale at the Hinesville Farmers Market for the first time Thursday afternoon.
“My first love is my wife and two kids. My second love are the Boy Scouts. And my third love is my carving,” Ginter said.
He began carving in 1990. His pieces range from sculpted canes and walking sticks to statues of noble Native Americans, craggy-faced cowboys and feathered and furred animals as well as whimsical, fairytale-like structures.
Ginter’s piece titled “Bridge to Necessity” shows a crooked cottage on a hill, with steps to the bridge, and then more steps leading to a little outhouse with a crescent moon door on the opposite end of the bridge.
Many of Ginter’s figures have humorous aspects and most tell a story.
His cattle drive cook, Cookie, holds an armadillo in one hand. Ginter’s hound dog, Kat Killer, is scratched and bandaged from an unfortunate meeting with a cat. He also carved a solemn Moses carrying the Ten Commandments tablets under his arm, etched with Hebrew lettering. Ginter said many of his ideas come from books and magazines, and some from nature.
The wood bark he carves ranges from dogwood to persimmon to butternut and basswood.
Ginter said he spends at least an hour and a half carving each day. His large bark carvings can take 10 hours or longer to complete. Ginter still attends carving classes and seminars when he can.
The prices of the pieces he sells depend on the hours he puts in and the tools involved. Large pieces can be as much as $250-$500.
Ginter said carving also has been therapeutic for him. He nearly lost his left arm, and his life, to necrotizing fasciitis — flesh-eating bacteria — six years ago. Ginter was working outside when he scratched his arm. Within hours, his hand was swollen and discolored. His wife, Martha Ginter, insisted he get immediate medical attention.
“The doctor said he was going to try to save his life and try to save the arm,” she said.
Ginter, a Korean and Vietnam War veteran, first was treated at Winn Army Community Hospital before he was flown to Fort Gordon in Augusta for further treatment.
“I had seven surgeries on my arm,” he said.
The surgeries included skin grafts. Afterward, Ginter had to complete occupational therapy. He said he preferred his wood carving.
“Wood carving is good therapy. The mind is working, the hands are working and you’re concentrating. And it’s fun. Everything you do is an accomplishment,” Ginter said.
Ginter recovered and eventually presented his orthopedic surgeon with a carved figure in the doctor’s likeness, with a bone in one hand and a Jim Bowie knife in the other.
“It was my gift to him,” Ginter said, “to show I appreciated what he did for me.”