Doc - Lawrence A.
Doc Dr. Lawrence Wiedman
Professor Emeritus – Marine Biology; University of Saint Francis
I have always enjoyed three dimensional art forms and have been blessed
with an ability to see two-dimensional images in my mind’s eye as they
would appear in real form. Being a Geologist (marine paleontology), has
helped me in petroleum exploration (my first true job) and certainly in
my current research interests on the health and recovery of the world’s
third largest Barrier Reef off the coast of Andros Island, Bahamas. It
also helps me see images that I am carving before I strike a single
The first encounter I remember with a real wood carver (obviously I
was impressed) was at Mystic Sea Port, CN in 1974. He was making
maidenheads for replica ships. When asked how he knew what to remove,
he answered flippantly “I see the final product in the wood and take off
anything that does not belong”.
I now understand that that is the best answer I too can give.
Obviously, I am influenced by what I see in nature. I am an avid camper
and backpacker and professionally have morphed into being a marine
biologist, but I see wonder in all environments, including make
believe. My style has been influenced mostly by three Rastafarian
brothers who are/were fulltime carvers of wood since their youth; Henry,
Mel and Jake Wallace of Red Bays, Andros Is. Henry and I have carved
together for over 20 years when I can free up time on the island to do
so. We share tips, secrets, frustrations and triumphs; some even are
I am also influenced by Early American Folk Art. For decades I have
collected hand made toys and whimsies. Since 2005 I now have my own
working studio dedicated to my carving. It is heated by a 150 year-old
wood stove I reconditioned.
One of my main goals is to evoke motion. I do not want my critters to
look wooden or passive. The second goal is to make folks smile. When
my carvings do both, I win. Most all of my materials come from scrap
gifts from friends or firewood piles. I only carve dead wood that are
single pieces, like the logs I used for this year’s sculptures. It
takes green wood from 5-12 years or more before I can use a log
depending on the wood and how thick it is.
I like taking something no one wants and making it beautiful. Most
all of my work is done by hand and hand tools, most of my gauges, saws,
and rasps are over a century old. Lately, I am getting less patient and
have succumbed to using a trusted saws-all to speed up the initial
rough shaping instead of a hatchet. My rationale is that a monkey could
do gross shaping; it is very time consuming by hand and muscle
fatiguing too, and this way is safer. Most likely these are just
excuses, but they work for me.
In the case of the work for the 2016 Decatur Sculpture walk, I went back to my roots and did both completely by hand tools.
This Year’s Sculptures
I love it when people want to feel my work. I am very tactile
myself. The sliding polar bear; “Wheeeee!” is from a single log of
Sassafras that was felled over 12 years ago in Parke Co., IN., where it
is considered a “trash tree”. As you can see, it still had enough
moisture in it that it cracked. No worries, if I did not want it to
look and behave as wood, I would have made it from something that would
I saw a photo in National Geographic years ago showing polar bears
sliding around like this and immediately knew I had to carve it. The
article said that trying to confuse seals below the ice (potential
dinner) into thinking the shadow they saw above them was a harmless bull
sea lion, it helped remove parasites from their bellies, or some
thought, it might just be for fun. I prefer the latter, but who
Researchers really do not know why they do it. The best guesses were
that they were.