I was at my booth at a boat show in Maryland when another maritime carver came to visit. Lordan was the local “yaahd cavaah,” as we’d describe it in New England. We hit off right away, talking about the little niceties of our trade. Somewhere along the line, he asked if I would be willing to make a swap. ” I know that you teach carving, and I also do. I’ve found that if I teach the students to carve the word CAT, they get a complete guide to letter carving in one word. It has the verticals, horizontals, curves, and diagonals all in one word.” We continued talking about letter carving for a while. In the days before Robo carving stole that end of our market, we tended to do a good bit of hand-carved quarter boards, transoms, and banners. After a while, I admitted that this was going to be useful to my students, and I asked him what he wanted in exchange. ” You carve a lovely little compass rose design. I’d love to borrow it for just a few boxes for presents.” “Done.” Says I, and the deal was complete.
Over the years, I used CAT to instruct many in letter carving. By the time they master CAT, the student is ready to move along to carving a quarter board.
So, the CAT carving was supposed to be a practice piece. But I noticed more than one student carefully finishing off the CAT practice piece as a finished piece of work. At last, confirmation came in the mail of what I had suspected. There, in all its glory, was the photo of a cat happily eating dinner in front of it’s very nicely varnished and gold-leafed CAT carving.
One man’s practice piece is another’s kitty gift,