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Carver follows way of wood in lifelong pursuit of a pastime

George Lytle devotes several hours a day to carving, making things "as true to life as I can."

By CAROLYN HOPKINS
Published February 26, 2004

Wood carving is more than just a hobby for George Lytle. It's practically a way of life for him and has been since he carved a neckerchief slide as a 12-year-old Boy Scout.

The products of his lifelong pursuit will be on display along with that of many other carvers at this weekend's Calusa Wood Carvers show at the New Port Richey Parks and Recreation Complex. Lytle and others will answer questions about their work.

Lytle, a 72-year-old Chicago native, set aside his hobby while serving in the Air Force in Germany from 1950 to 1954. After the service, he returned to work at a steel company in Detroit before joining the Ford Motor Co. as an engineer and designer where he worked 35 years.

In 1980, he attended his first wood carving show in Buffalo, N.Y., and decided to begin carving again. He joined a local club and started winning ribbons and awards. Although he attended a few classes, he thinks of himself as self taught.

He offers a warning to novice carvers.

"In the beginning you might get a few scratches while carving," Lytle said. "But as you get more experience you don't, unless you get careless ..."

Now as a retiree living in Spring Hill with his wife. Ann, Lytle devotes several hours a day to carving. He said as an old engineer, he likes to carve things "as true to life as I can."

As an outdoors man, he enjoys carving lifelike images of birds and fish. His creative process starts with researching his subject. He prefers to use basswood because of the nice grain and because he can put in a lot more realistic detail than in pine. He uses power tools to rough out the carving and finishes it with knives and gouges, then either uses wood burning or acrylic paints for the finish. Lytle said he has become involved recently in carving replicas of antique decoys and is selling them now because he is running out of room in his workshop and he loves to keep carving.

Lytle is president of the Weeki Wachee Wood Carvers in Spring Hill, a board member of the Calusa Wood Carvers in New Port Richey and a life member of Southtowns Wood Carvers of Buffalo.

In addition to his interest in carving, Lytle has been involved with scouting for 60 years. He serves on the executive board of the Gulf Ridge Council Boy Scouts of America in Tampa and is an at-large member of the Withlacoochee District of BSA.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Calusa Wood Carvers 23rd annual show

WHERE: New Port Richey Parks and Recreation Complex, 6630 Van Buren St.

WHEN: Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

ADMISSION: $2 donation, which includes the chance to win a carving

FOR INFORMATION: Call Wynett Scott at (727) 842-3233

[Last modified February 26, 2004, 01:31:33]


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