TECUMSEH, OKLAHOMA — Take a big chunk of black walnut and Stanton Pace likes to follow the grains and growth rings.
They tell him most about what shape his carved animals might become.
“Let’s say I want to make a bear,” he says. “I’ll start carving and let the grain tell me how the features are going to be.”
But Stan has something else few other carvers like him can boast, especially when it comes to carving bears.
He has a live model, a 3 and a half-year old male, black bear named Bowser.
The Paces bought him as a 5 week old cub.
They raised him in their house until he got too big.
After than they moved him to a luxury enclosure right next to where Stan does his carving.
Stan brushes his thick coat and says, “This is our model, our model for bears.”
They spend a lot of time together, these two.
When Stan needs a certain pose the treats come out.
“There are many times when I’ll bring out a packet of honey and I’ll put it on the fence where Bowser can give me an angle where I can see his eyelid, or his lip, or his little mouth, and just when you think you’ve got it right he’ll do something else that’s even better.”
Full disclosure, I didn’t venture into Bowser’s area.
Stan’s wife Shanna carried a miniature camera inside the fence.
They tell us Bowser minds her better than he would a stranger.
But when it comes to special relationships you won’t find one better than this artist and model.
“While sharing a bag of marshmallows Stan waxes, “We like to hold hands and take sunset walks, and look into each others’ eyes.”
Model and muse together in one 500 pound package.
Their connection is definitely unique.
There’s a bit of him in every piece of wood Stan carves.
Stanton Pace is bringing his carvings (not Bowser) to the annual Tecumseh Frontier Days September 19th.
For more information on his carvings go to www.bowserswoodcarving.com