A Passion for Wood

“I’ve always known what I was going to do, from as early as I can remember,” says fine wood carver William Schnute of Wilton. “It’s in my DNA. It’s something that can’t be taught — you just feel it and work to develop it.” Though he started his work life as a cell biology researcher, he would soon leave the lab to pursue his passion for wood. For the past 29 years, he has worked in his Oak Leaves Studio, carving high-relief sculpture, doors, entryways, room dividers, mantels, gates and signs. He has worked with respected architects and interior designers to develop feature pieces for private residences, corporate buildings and churches nationwide. Schnute sees doors as an architectural interface, a portal between public and private. He also sees them as a way to incorporate the landscape with the architecture: “I try to relate what was there before the land was cleared to what’s there now. ” No chisels are used in Schnute’s work, which can weigh up to a ton; he only uses gouges. He has more than 200 of them so he can create what he calls “a palette of textures.” Schnute, who is a member of the League of N.H. Craftsmen, has had no formal art training, but he does have a natural talent important to fine carvers — the ability to see his design in 3D. “Once I see it, it’s all over but the doing,” he says. “I start with the finished product in mind, but I’m always open to serendipity.” For more information about Schnute and his work, visit www.redshift.com/~oakleaves.
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