Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Yet Another Warther Museum

Way back in 2010, I visited and the blogged about my visit to TheWarther Museum in Dover, Ohio.  If you haven’t seen it, it is a place that all woodcarvers should visit at least once.  It houses the most amazing collection of works by possibly the world’s best woodcarver…well …OK…at least the best carver of wooden trains. 
As I mentioned on my blog back then, “The museum is not terribly impressive on the outside but on the inside it is like a fine jewel box. Each locomotive is mounted in a display case, backed with a velvet curtain, and is beautifully illuminated for maximum visibility.” 
Most of the trains have moving wheels and drive rods with tiny, dangling chains (each with dozens of individual links).  The trains are not carved from nice soft basswood (like I use) but out of unbelievably hard materials such as Walnut, Ebony and Ivory.  If that doesn’t impress you, then a glance at his tiny shop with its meager tool collection will.  How anyone with could manage to produce such fine works in such a tiny place without the aid of any power tools (if you don’t count the drill press) is beyond me.
Close up of the Rigging
Well, now, history is repeating itself.  Dave Warther is following in his grandfather’s footsteps with one slight difference. Instead of trains, he carves beautiful sailing vessels from ivory.  His ship models range from the Nile barge of the famous Egyptian pharaoh, Cheops to the largest model, the Coast Guard training ship “the Eagle”. 

Cheop's Nile Barge
Perhaps the most striking features of the ships is that even the ropes in the ships’ rigging -- of which there are hundreds -- are “carved” from ivory.  When he was only a teenager, David developed a technique for reducing the diameter of an ivory “stick” down to a strand measuring only 0.007” in diameter with amazing flexibility.  Lines that are to appear to be “pulled tight” are straight but lines that are intended to droop, do so very convincingly.

The Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria
He has taken a page from his grandfather’s book.  Each of his 80 ships is displayed under a glass cover with lighting worthy of the crown jewels.  In fact, the lighting is almost too good.  The ships are so dazzling that, because of my inexperience with my brand new camera, my photos did not come out as nicely as I had hoped they would.
David’s museum located about 20 or so miles west of Dover (between Walnut Creek and Sugarcreek on Route 39) and it, too, is definitely worth the time and effort to see. I have no idea if many people get the treatment that we did, but we were lucky enough to arrive on a day when the museum tour was led by the artist himself.
So if you are visiting the Amish country of central Ohio, don’t pass up a stop at the David Warther Museum.