This wasn’t my first choice. I prefer a bit of straightforward carpentry myself. But it turned out I’ve got a bit of an artistic flair – and I can do faces better than anyone. So that was it, my fate was sealed.
It’s usually women, though I have done one male figure (I’m pretty sure the commission came from a bunch of pirates). Even though I’m a natural at carving, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. In the early days I’d often make a mistake, something crucial like the nose, and the whole thing ended up a lot smaller once I’d finished all the corrective whittling.
Of course, the figures I carve lead much more exciting lives than I do, strapped to the front of ships, leading the way ahead on voyages of discovery and adventure. Very different to me with just my wife and my dog. I wish sometimes that they weren’t used on ships. I was very proud the one time I saw a ship set sail with one of my girls on her prow. But once, just once, I’d like one of my masterpieces to stay on dry land to be admired. Not being plunged continuously into rough seas, weathered by fierce winds or meeting a salty end on the bottom of the ocean. I wonder sometimes about the angels, goddesses and witches I’ve carved who lie now in darkness, gazing at coral and flat fish, with nothing but men’s souls for company.