Featured Member: Mark Blevins, Woodcarver
When Mark Blevins was working for his family business, Blevins Plumbing and Construction, in Glade Spring, Virginia, he never thought he would be carving wood one day. But a round of cancer brought an end to his 30-plus years in the construction business and a chance visit to a worksite opened up a new world. There he met Phil Topa, a carver who showed him the basics and encouraged him to give it a try.
“I’ve been fairly fortunate all my life. I’ve worked with my hands. I’ve painted, built race cars. Phil talked me into coming to a place where carvers got together, at Cold Springs, Tennessee, on Rt. 75. Hadn’t ever tried it before. In 2011, my first carving was a little hillbilly. I liked it and kept doing it. Like they say, I just have a natural knack for it, I guess.”
Mark went on to take several classes, including some at the John C. Campbell Folk School where he learned from master carver Pete LeClair, who specializes in characters, which particularly appealed to him. He also learned how to paint his carvings with washes, thin coats of paint, when he decided to enter carving competitions.
“If you take carvings to a show, they like to see the wood. They don’t want them painted heavy. They want to see that it’s not a ceramic piece. Of course, they look for details and how clean the cuts are. I’ve been lucky. I’ve won a lot of shows.”
Mark juried in to Holston Mountain Artisans in 2011 and was elected to the board of directors, where he has served as president and head of maintenance for several years. He is an active member in the Carving Club, which meets Monday evenings at the Annex behind the craft shop.
“In our carving group we work with a lot of young kids. We have several that come every week. Even if they don’t keep doing it right now, they may come back to it at a later date. The Road Scholars come, people from all over. Anybody that’s interested in carving, some on down on Monday night. Check with the co-op to make sure we’re meeting.
"I like all the other craftspeople in here and you learn a lot from them. Just to see somebody make something with their hands, that’s a neat thing."
Click on the first slide below to to meet more of our co-op members,
who enjoy demonstrating in our shop and at our festivals.