Retirement finds one man learning new hobby

Merlin Mayer, resident at Forest Glen, recently finished a wood carving that is on display at Forest Glen. Mayer made the carving using a cedar root and basswood. Merlin Mayer has made a number of carvings over the years. Every year he tries to do one major project and some smaller projects. – Photos by Sara Tischauser

By Sara Tischauser

One man said he went from cutting meat to cutting wood as he found a new hobby after he retired from being a meat cutter and sausage maker.
Merlin Mayer who currently resides at Forest Glen is 93 years old and still enjoying his wood carving hobby that he started about five years after he retired from cutting meat and making sausage.
Before he retired, Mayer said he didn’t have time for a hobby like wood carving, but after he retired and learned about wood carving he took up the hobby and has continued with it.
“I took woodcarving to an art form,” Mayer said. “It’s actually sculpting. It’s more of an art.”
To help with his wood carving, Mayer said he went to vocational school, taking some five to six week courses in painting. He said he wanted to learn about painting so he could paint his wood carvings once he finished them.
“I learned as much as I could about mixing paint and getting depth,” Mayer said about what he learned from his painting classes.
While there are various types of wood carving styles, Mayer said he does lifelike carvings and tries to make his carvings look as realistic as possible. Right now Mayer said he is working on an eagle and has started tracing the pattern on the wood. He said he is using a picture of an eagle to help get the head and feathers more lifelike.
Typically Mayer said he finishes one major project per year and a couple of smaller projects. He just finished a project that took him about two years to do that is on display at Forest Glen.
For his projects, Mayer said he has a large wood supply at home to choose from. Much of the wood in his supply are pieces that Mayer said he picked out of the woods, some of it from the tree farm he previously owned. He said depending on what project he is working on helps determine what type of wood to use. The natural tones and variances in color of the wood can make a difference on the final appearances of the projects.
“The wood will sometimes determine what you can make out of it,” Mayer said.
For his projects, he uses chisels, a mallet and a wood carving knife to create his unique carvings. He said many times it is hard to duplicate his own projects because of the variations in wood.
Mayer has made many projects over the years and has taken some of his projects to art shows in the area. He also belongs to a carving club in the Valley. He said he will continue to do his wood carvings as long as he can as he finds it an enjoyable hobby.
“I do it as a hobby because I don’t want to get into business of it, isn’t as fun then,” Mayer said. “I enjoy it because I’ve gotten away from standard patterns. I make original articles-new and one of a kind.”