Artist in Residence, Tom Cote…Master Wood Carver

cotewoodsmanTom lives in the other end of Maine…way up in Limestone…so the only stumbled upon him and his wonderful wood carvings through a mention in one of the Maine Art’s Commission media posts.  To make a long story short, my father is a wood carver and was looking to learn new techniques for his carousel creatures…so the connection was made and after a week of studying under Tom, Dad came back to say…”I’ve found your 2009 Artist in Residence”.

The FC committee talked about it over a cold glass of lemonade and everyone agreed that having a wood carver as our master artist would add a new, exciting dimension to the entire event.  Wood is most certainly a fiber and moreover, the tools we spinners and weavers and needle artists use are most commonly made of wood…sounded like a perfect fit to us!

Tom carves both large and small pieces, has been recognized by both local and international collectors as an important artist and most significant to us, he is a talented, light-hearted teacher willing to coax a beginner along in the first discoveries and help an accomplished carver achieve new effects by passing on techniques acquired from a lifetime of study.

He will be teaching a full day class on Thursday entitled Carving Wood in the Maine Tradition and will be working and available to talk with interested people through out the weekend.  Not only will he be carving and selling his work, but he will also be spending time demonstrating how to maintain many of our traditional  fiber working tools.  On Saturday night Tom will be presenting a video slide show at the lasagna dinner where we’ll all learn more about the craft and skill of wood carving.

When faced with our interview questions, Tom told us:

1)     Teaching takes courage and experience…and so much extra time.  When you’re not teaching, what else do you like to do?

When I am not teaching I like to work in my garden, make homemade wine and design and create my own carvings.

2)     Fill in the blanks for the following statement:

Inspiration for my work comes from history and places, things and people I have seen throughout my life.  Research and the details of the item or person is very important to create the details and to make sure it is historically correct is the aspect of my work and something to which I find I am very sensitive.  Whenever I create a piece, I am most pleased when someone understands the personal connection behind my work.

coteceremony3)     Describe the perfect class that you’d like to take… 

The perfect class where you walk into the studio in the morning and there is a whole table of raw materials and the instructor gives you a very loose project to create, but the instructor to give you some directions throughout the class keeping you on task at all times.

4)     We’d like a sense of your expertise and ability to teach the class you’re offering…so tell us how you came to feel confident about leading a group through your particular class.  How long have you been practicing? 

I have been an art teacher for over 30 years, teaching students from age 5 to 90 in many types of visual arts, but my main art form is wood sculpting.

5)     If you make a knitting error (substitute your art form here) do you jump right in and frog it (rip it out) or do you call it a design feature and keep right on going? 

In wood sculpting if you make a mistake, I fine it is very easy to change the design to fix mistakes because the viewer will not have any idea that you made a mistake.  You are the only one that should know what the end project should be.

Does the mistake cause you anxiety or do you feel like it’s just one more opportunity to make the project your own?

I feel that a mistake tends to give you the student more chances to create a one of a kind item.

6)     If you could ask your students questions and class time wasn’t an issue, what sort of things would you like to know about the people sitting in front of you?

I would like to know a little history about them, where they come from, why they decided to take the course and what they want to do with what they learned in the course.

cotetruck7)     I am an avid collector of: 

Pins from all over, Disney, Boy Scout, travel pins, etc.

8)  What’s your favorite tool?  Why?

First of all I have two favorite tools, my bench carving knife which has a long handle and short blade, this can create many small carvings and many textures.  My second favorite tool is my eyes, without them I would have a hard time creating any of my art work.

9)  What do you like best about what you do? 

cotefoxI like the fact that I take a log or a piece of a tree and turn it into something that I see in that raw material, so I have control from start to finish. I can also work on more then one project at a time, I can work detail for awhile, then go to another piece and start roughing it out.  This all depends on the mood I am in.  Some projects can set for months and sometimes the project will change when I start carving on it again.

3 thoughts on “Artist in Residence, Tom Cote…Master Wood Carver

  1. Pingback: Saturday Night at the Museum « Fiber College on Penobscot Bay

  2. Pingback: Draft #1 of the Scheduled Demonstrations « Fiber College on Penobscot Bay

  3. Pingback: A Recap of Fiber College and Maine | Fort Pelham Farm

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