Where form and function meet

By Frank Green

Trees are left alone for the sake of tourist attractions like the Ancient Forest. They’re chopped down so people have jobs. And they’re whittled into exquisite objects, because people get the itch to create.

A couple dozen of those artworks are in the local woodworking exhibit at the Valley Museum and Archives—walking sticks and engravings and a mandolin, among other things.

There isn’t a eureka moment behind Roger Wiltsie’s ornaments on display. He insists that they were
a “hobby,” and he doesn’t even remember when he made the first one. As he tells it, there was a scroll saw amidst the tools in the woodworking shop downstairs at his house. And 15 or 20 years ago he happened to take the plunge into making beautiful things for their own sake.

It wasn’t much of a leap, considering Wiltsie worked in forestry his whole life. (He was often setting trees on fire, though, clearing deadfall.) And Wiltsie built his own house, after all.

“It’s just a house. Normal, ordinary house” he insisted, when asked if it had the artistry evident in his ornaments. “But Glen Stanley, that’s something,” Wiltsie said, changing the conversation to praise Stanley, whose expert engravings are also featured.

Larry Stamm has a guitar and a mandolin in the exhibit, but he too denies that there’s poetry in his work. “There are luthiers that get all mystical about it,” he said, but “wood is wood.”

Stamm is a craftsman. And as for the special touches that make the instruments unique and gorgeous, “it’s a chance to use up all the little pieces of wood around the shop,” he joked.

Whatever the claims of the woodworkers, their creations will be in glass boxes through October 15th.

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