Tom Lowe performs magic but not in the traditional sense. There are no disappearing rabbits in sight when Lowe turns plain sticks of wood into works of art with a few flicks of a knife.
"When I was 10, my father gave me a pocketknife. I'd go out and pick up sticks and whittle," says Lowe, The Wildwood Carver. "I'd carve out a face or a chickadee, for example. I fell in love with carving."
By the age of 17, Lowe was working for well-known sign carver Kai Dawley on the island of Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. In time, the young apprentice opened his own business, The Yankee Woodcarver, changing the name to The Wildwood Carver when he moved south to Wildwood Boulevard in Ashland.
Today Lowe handcrafts wooden house markers and signs, sculptures — think whales, birds and eagles — banners, and architectural carvings. He also crafts one-of-a-kind antique-like carved bowls that he sells online. Wood types used range from pine and cypress to poplar and mahogany. "For the house signs I prefer to use sugar pine," he says. "It doesn't have any knots and it's straight-grained."
Lowe concedes that carving is therapeutic. "It's not that I have so much patience," he jokes. "It's that I have a bad memory and forget how long I've been working."
Wildwood Carver pieces generally range from $20 to $380. Prices are determined by the amount of time put into each piece, and hourly rates differ depending on the type of project. For more information, visit www.wildwoodcarver.com or www.carvedwoodbowls.com.