Goshen man carves his vision from wood

December 21st, 2006    Author: Michael Bradley    Filed Under: News

His canvas is wood, his inspiration, animals.

Ferocious grizzly bears stand upright ready to attack, majestic eagles and hawks are poised in flight, nimble squirrels and sluggish turtles are eternally at play. Skittish fish are jumping in and out of a front yard pond, and a stealthy 10-foot alligator lies silently in wait.

These are but a few of the wondrous wood carving creations that dot the 200 acres of verdant farmland and countryside at the picturesque Hidden Creek Farm in Goshen.

Farm owner and Goshen resident Paul Schmidt has taken a personal passion and talent for artwork and turned it into a unique hobby of carving animal forms into tree trunks.

Goshen resident Paul Schmidt stands next to his carving of a woman, one of the many images he has created from wood at his Hidden Creek Farm.
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"It is a hobby," explains Paul Schmidt. "I have always had a passion for art (he has been painting with oils for many years). The wood carvings started last year when a pine tree perished as a result of the enlarging of the pond that sits in front of our home. My wife Janet asked me to leave the stump there next to the pond and do some kind of carving with it. And that is really how all this started. I carved a fish out of the pine stump to look like it was jumping out of the water. The illusion is startling."

This pond also includes a lagoon and a waterfall that Schmidt carved from lava rock.

Schmidt, who was born and raised in Mercer County, Ohio and has lived on the Hidden Creek Farm with his wife since 1973, starts his animal creations with only a tree stump.

"I can use any kind of hard wood," he said. "I have used maple, sycamore, pine, cottonwood, beech, cherry, walnut, and cedar. The best wood for carving is called catalpa (a tree with heart-shaped leaves and bean like pods)."

Catalpa wood is most ideal for carving because it splits easily and has a nice grain or texture to it, Schmidt said.

"I use a chain saw to carve out the initial shape. I finish up and detail the carving with smaller saws and grinders. Surprisingly, the creations do not take that long to complete. It is really only a matter of finding the free time to work on them."

In addition to tending the 200 acres of soybean on the Hidden Creek Farm, he works full-time at DHL, an international express and logistics company located in Wilmington.

Schmidt can carve any kind of animal form or shape into a tree stump.

"I have done eagles, hawks, roosters, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons, bears, fish, turtles, and alligators."

Schmidt has carved other things as well - here sits a log cabin carved from a walnut stump, complete with smokehouse, and there, a woman, carved from cedar and stained with linseed oil (which adds color), holds court in the farm's back yard.

Despite the consistent encouragement of family, friends, and neighbors to share his gift with the world, he has no immediate plans to turn his hobby into a commercial enterprise.

"This hobby was just meant to be a creative outlet to play around, stay active, and have some fun," he said. "I really do not have the time right now to make this a full-time endeavor. I might consider taking orders in the future and sell some of them, but for the time being, it remains a personal leisure pursuit."
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