CROSSNORE — Jerry Stringham has been carving wood for the past 14 years, and for approximately the past five years he has been pursuing his art full time.
Stingham has traveled all over the country, some of his pieces and his tools with him in his camper. He has been a fixture at a few locations in Avery County since the summer of 2018 and set up shop in Crossnore, just off Hwy. 221, a few months ago.
Stingham carves almost all his pieces using only chainsaws. One notable piece he had on display when he was interviewed for this story was a full-sized angel, which he did detail work on with finer tools.
Stingham usually travels to a new location depending on his sales and the weather, though he has been set up at his current site for longer than usual.
He learned carving from his father as a trade to fall back on.
“He started carving about 25 years ago on almost a dare,” Stingham said. “He insulted another wood carver and the guy said ‘Well do it better, do it yourself,’ and he found out he could making a living doing it, being an artist.”
Stingham worked a number of other jobs before taking up wood carving full time, though he had been selling his work on and off for much longer. He carves six days a week and said he has seen major improvements in his work since he began carving full time, and even over just the past year.
“I never had an idea of what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just knew I wanted to be happy with what I did,” Stingham said.
His best sellers are carvings of animals, but he takes commissions as well. He finds places to set up shop on his travels. He will try to find property owners who would be willing and gets appropriate permits to set up wherever he travels.
“Some folks don’t want to deal with it. Some folks want to adopt me and take me home to dinner and everything else,” Stringham said. “Right here it’s felt more like home; it’s felt like family in Crossnore.”
Stringham said his favorite piece is the large angel he has on display. He said his eagles and bears are his biggest sellers. Swingham said the carved pieces need to be treated and kept off the ground to keep from absorbing moisture from the ground soil, elevated on a small stone platform, for instance.
For more information on Stringham and his wares, call (352) 431-4907.