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16 October 2014

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Pleased as Punch

By Tony Cutting
March 2004, Monmouth
A digital story from Capture Wales

Carving a Passion

Tony thought he knew everything about his wife until the day she picked up a chisel.

"Jen and I have been married for 43 years and have two children who have now flown the nest. We have always shared our ups and downs and never knowingly hid anything from one another. However, Jen did have a hidden talent and this came to light when, 11 years ago, we visited a wood-carving exhibition. She said to me, "I reckon I could do that," and I said, "Why don't you give it a go?"

Well, I was in for a surprise.

She called these 'stylised figures', and said the next would have more details. The difference was amazing! During breaks, she would carve some fun items.

Now comes the fish phase. She had the inspiration to carve a freshwater fish picture. All went well until she knocked some teeth out of the pike and I thought she would have to re-carve. No way! She took the remains of a lamb joint, cleaned the bone and broke it into small pieces, and used these for teeth. It made the pike look more realistic.

The benefits of Jen's talents are two-fold. First, is the research we do, and the travelling around places like wildlife parks to see the subjects Jen will be doing next. For a picture may look nice but it will never give you the three-dimensions required for carving. The other benefit is we both dislike beautiful trees being cut down, and therefore enjoy finding useful pieces that would otherwise have been left to rot or burn.

I love the way that Jen gives these pieces a new life in a different form, that will give pleasure to people for years to come.

I'm as pleased as punch that I encouraged Jen to carve; otherwise, I would have never have known her hidden talent."

Tony Cutting

Please tell us about yourself.
My childhood days were spent in orphanages until the age of 14. Then I was transferred to a Hostel and started working for a newspaper in London as a Messenger boy. I then signed up with the RAF for five years before settling into a job in cotton manufacturing, ending my career with them as a Commercial Representative, travelling around the country selling their products. I am now retired. My wife, Jennifer, and I have two children - Susan is married with two children and our son, David, is married and lives in Australia. My hobbies are photography, walking, badminton, table-tennis and computing.

What's your story about?
It's how my wife, Jen, took up wood-carving. Jen is so laid back, and never thinks that her work is anything special. This story gives me the opportunity to tell people how good I think her work is.

What did you find the most rewarding about the workshop?
There were so many: learning new skills in two of my hobbies - computers and photography; with the help of the BBC team, dispel a belief that I could not tell a story; the way everyone gelled together; friends and acquaintances made during the workshop experience, which I hope will continue.

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