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A passion for carving

August 28, 2013 - "We have a world-class woodcarver and he's right here in Clarkston," Les Hartzman said of his friend of 50 years, Ron Copes . "I'm not sure if he's a better woodcarver or painter. He's has such talent for both of them."

Copes, a Clarkston resident, found his love for woodcarving later in life.

A plumber by trade, Copes and his wife, Pat, were busy in their early days raising kids, building houses and building a life. Throughout the years occasionally Ron found a chance to paint, but it was not until after he retired the 77-year-old became interested in woodcarving.

To get started, Ron took a few enrichment classes at Clarkston Community Schools, showing him the basics of woodcarving.

"He's always been good with his hands and he's always been an artistic guy," said Pat, of her husband of 57 years. "The talent has always been there but did not really come out until he had more time."

Not only is he is doing something he loves to do, his hobby also serves to keep his mind sharp in his older years.

"It gives me something to do and something to look forward too," Ron said. "It's important to keep your mind busy."

Pat said when her husband is creating, it's like he is in a different world and all his cares fall away.

Ron's carvings and paintings decorate several rooms and the basement of the couple's tidy home.

Using a variety of tools, Ron hand carves the artwork out of a big block of wood. Some pieces take hours to create, but he whittles away creating the treasures in a workshop he has set up in his basement.

He has created a variety of pieces including turtles, duck decoys, Indian figures, serpent canes, busts, different animals and fish.

Hartzman really enjoys a fish design Ron crafted called "Splash."

"It's so amazing. It's a wood carved fish that looks like it's jumping out of the water," he said.

He is impressed by the exquisite detail of the fish, from its small scales to how it appears to be splashing up out of the water.

Ron said he works hard to make his creations look natural. "The fish looks wet," he said. Many of the fish he's created sit atop pieces of driftwood he found in nature during his walk near the couples cabin up north.

Although he just started woodcarving 10 years ago, Ron has painted occasionally for years. One of his paintings feature a scene right outside the window in a little town at his cousins home in Italy. He also painted another picture while visiting of a town and bridge in Italy.

He also loves to paint barns, which Ron said he's always been interested in because as a child he spent a lot of time on a farm.

It is wildlife Ron really appreciates. "I get my inspiration from nature," he said.

Ron said he has no real agenda when it comes to his hobby - it's just something he likes doing. He said he would like to see more people get into woodcarving because he thinks it's a good hobby to have.

"I would also like to see more classes or a club for woodcarving in Clarkston," he said

Ron said if anyone wants to talk, is interested in seeing some of his work or needs some advice about woodcarving he is always willing to talk. "I'm always willing to help," he smiled.

To speak to Ron or see some of his work call 248-625-5813.

Staff writer
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