Vernon DePauw has been hand carving for more than 40 years, starting as a seventh grader in shop class. He was raised on a farm in northern Illinois, where his father taught him to do his best in everything he did and take pride in his work.
He is primarily self-taught. He carves mostly basswood with antique and traditional hand tools, finishing his carvings using 23-karat gold leaf, acrylic paints, or a combination of both. He has developed different methods of creating an old-looking finish so the pieces have a folk art look.
He draws inspiration from carvers and carvings of the past, adding his own artistic interpretation—sometimes by adding or removing accessories or changing a painted sign to a three-dimensional carving. He chooses to not sand the work to maintain a faceted surface.
DePauw’s goal is to produce a piece of handmade American art that is rooted in American heritage and tugs at the basic feelings of independence, freedom, and patriotism.
He demonstrates hand carving at area historical events to help the public understand the skill and time involved and gain a deeper appreciation for early carvers. He especially enjoys sharing with young people the art of woodcarving and some of the country’s history conveyed though historical carvings.
Artists appearing in the 20201 Directory of Traditional American Crafts have been selected, and the best of their handiwork has been photographed at Cedar Grove, an 18th Century house museum operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Look for the Directory in our August 2021 issue.
1,841 days until America's Sestercentennial
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