Tree carving honoring 'Big Reds' takes shape on Main Street

Submitted photoSteve Spurgeon stands next to his completed sculpture at the home of Julie Clark on Main Street in Centerville. Spurgeon says he rarely uses paint. To get a dark, black color he uses a torch. This particular sculpture however did have some red added to highlight the feathers and headdress.

A Centerville homeowner decided to express her school spirit in a unique way.

When a tree in the front yard of Julie Clark’s home on Main Street was damaged earlier this year and had to be cut down, she decided to see if she could do something with the stump that would be left behind.

“I debated on having it carved … or doing one of those fancy fairy gardens with it,” she said.

She had seen some carvings done locally, and set out to find out who had done them.

“I knew somebody around here did it,” Clark said.

She reached out on Facebook and soon got the name of Steve Spurgeon, who lives west of Moulton. So, she contacted him and he came to examine the stump. It was an Ash tree that was estimated to be about 121 years old.

“At first he was going to do a 3-D type deal,” said Clark. But she had seen an angel carving that Spurgeon had done in a local graveyard that was more of a flat carving into a tree and liked that style better.

He was able to complete the carving over a four-day period.

“I’m still working a full-time job,” said Spurgeon. “It’s a hobby.”

Spurgeon said he began doing chainsaw carvings about two-and-a-half years ago.

“I cut some trees down in my yard and thought I would like to try to carve a bear, and I did and haven’t stopped carving since,” said Spurgeon.

He uses mostly chainsaws, but does uses other carving tools to do more detailed work. Spurgeon says that he had never really thought about trying carving before and had no experience in carving or other art work.

“I built my own house, is the closest thing I’ve ever done to that,” said Spurgeon. “I am certainly no artist.”

Spurgeon said he has mostly learned through trial and error and the Internet.

“There’s a lot of information on the Internet, so I just studied up on it a lot,” said Spurgeon. “And I know what I want it to look like and I just keep working at it until I get the shape to come out.”

Spurgeon says he doesn’t know how many carvings he has completed, but he estimates it is in the hundreds. He did several shows this year, including the Moulton Jamboree, the Centerville Fireman’s Car Show and he carved at Bradley Hall the morning of Pancake Day.

He also gets contacted by people like Clark do carvings. He said he has a list of requests that he works through. He mostly works out of his barn carving pieces of wood, but does also travel to carve trees like Clark’s occasionally.

Clark thought that the project might be expensive when the idea first came to her, but in the end, she saw it as a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“It’s not like I’m going to have 12 other trees in my yard that come down and have the opportunity,” said Clark. “It’s Main Street, it’s going to be a great visual.”

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Krystal Fowler can be reached at kfowler@dailyiowegian.com or by calling (641) 856-6336.​ Follow her on Twitter @KFowler_Daily.

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