Clinton girl is award-winning artist, with a little help from grandpa
CLINTON When Autumn Douglas isn't fishing in Turtle Creek or visiting the local farmers market, she spends time carving wood.
"She diddled at age 5, got a little serious when she was 6 and started using carving tools when she was 7," said her grandfather Gerald Lesch, who introduced her to his hobby in the basement of his Clinton home.
Autumn recently competed in the novice division of Wisconsin River Woodcarvers competition at Stevens Point. She won a third-place ribbon for a small robin pendant she carved and an honorable mention for a fish pin she made.
Autumn, 9, will be a fourth grader at Clinton Elementary School this fall.
"She'll definitely be at the Stevens Point show in 2013," Lesch said.
The public will get a chance to meet her and see her work during the Rock River Valley Carvers of Wisconsin's 7th Annual Show and Sale on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds. She'll be in a booth with her grandfather.
On a recent morning, Autumn was working on a carving of a canvasback duck.
Peering through a face shield that kept dust out of her eyes and her hair out of the power tools, Autumn sanded the basswood to shape feathers on what had started as a rectangular block of wood.
"We put a pattern on it and cut it with a jig saw. Then she had to do all the rounding on that. She got a little distracted and removed a bit too much wood on one side, so she needs to do a bit of evening it out," Lesch said.
"But I don't mind that she made a mistake. That's good. Then she learns," he said.
Autumn had 10 hours invested into the duck carving and expected to spend another six hours finishing it. After a bit more sanding, she used a grooving tool to outline the major feather groups.
"She's got a whole set and hundreds of tools she can pick from," Lesch said.
"Whatever I want to do to the duck, I have to have the right tool to do it," she said, running her index finger over the tops tools in search of the correct one.
"I had to use one of the pointed tips to create this space between the wings," Autumn said, pointing to the groove she was carefully sanding.
"Take your time," Lesch told her.
Autumn said she spends time carving at her grandparents' house on weekends and after school.
Lesch, a two-time state and national award-winning carver who also has won first place in the bark carving category of the International Wood Carvers Congress, said Autumn is a natural at carving.
"She picked up the hobby pretty quick," he said.
"For a year, I had her using carving knives and make curls just to get used to the knives," Lesch said.
"She's worked hours on practicing with knives so when she does a project, she's got an idea of which ones to use. She's pretty good at the tools and ... follows safety rules, too," he said.
Autumn said she didn't think her talent is anything special.
"It's just really fun," she said, "and I like to do it."
If you go
What: Rock River Valley Carvers of Wisconsin 7th Annual Show and Sale
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15.
Featured: Carvers, vendors, demonstrations and raffle.
Where: Craig Center, Rock County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1301 Craig Ave., Janesville.