You’ll find them gathered in a wide circle a few feet from the Columbia River and at least six feet from each other.
Members of the Tri-Cities Wood Carvers take care to spread out in Columbia Park in Kennewick to minimize the spread of coronavirus under Washington’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order.
The battle against COVID-19, the potentially fatal disease caused by coronavirus, closed the Kennewick Community Center and forced the group of mostly retired men and women to find another spot to carve and chat at a safe distance.
They meet at 1 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays near a gazebo a few hundred yards west of the Edison Street boat ramp.
They tackle individual projects and each other, swapping good-natured insults and jabs and information.
“We mainly do fun stuff,” said Warren Nicley, a retired pharmacist who helped organize the quarantine-friendly gatherings.
The twice-weekly gatherings keep a club with a long history connected and friendships intact.
Tri-Cities Wood Carvers is more than 25 years old and offers members an outlet to share their creations, learn from one another and enjoy the satisfaction of turning raw pieces of wood into figurines, plaques, totems and more.
The coronavirus pandemic has not been good to the group. It was forced to cancel its annual Artistry in Wood juried art and show in April. Its eight-week carving class, which would have met from March to May, is now set for September.
A June woodcarving rendezvous is still on the calendar but it’s unclear if it will go forward.
Nicley said members are evenly split between men and women, joined by their common interest in carving wood. There are experts and beginners and everything in between.
Some people carve wood figures. Others do relief carvings and burnishing and create decorative figurines. One member carves wine barrels and another turns wood on a lathe.
“We’re just a group of people that want to wood carve,” he said. “There’s a whole variety of stuff that people do.”
Nicley said members are mostly 60 and over, which he laments. The group wants to draw younger members. There’s satisfaction, he said, in creating something from wood, even if it doesn’t turn out particularly well.
“You’re creating something with your hands. There’s a lot of satisfaction with that.”
Nicley said he personally enjoys the feel of wood, the texture and colors and movement of the grain. He also recalled a difficult project that inspired him to take on bigger challenges.
Stay up to speed on the Wood Carving group at tri-citieswoodcarvingclub.blogspot.com or call 509-430-3778.
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