I am Dan Faber and I have been carving ever since I could hold a pocket knife in my hand. When I was a boy growing up in Miami, Florida, some people collected stamps… I collected knives.
My brother Doug was always a great encouragement to me as he saw potential in my carvings that even I did not realize.
To me carving was just something I did.
I carved all the time and everywhere... even getting in BIG trouble when I scraped the shape of the entire United States map, States and all, on the dash of our '53 Buick.
I also decided in about the 3rd grade that a beautifully detailed replica of a 1960’s Air Force bomber needed bomb bay doors…
boy did I catch it for that!
In about the 5th grade I decided to carve a man reading the Bible. I started at the bottom but by the time I carved his head, I ran out of wood.
At 14, I hiked Philmont Scout Ranch and carved a walking staff with scenes of every river and mountain we crossed. Unfortunately I lost that stick on a hike a year later.
One thing that inspired me at Philmont, that would later shape some of my carving was the cat faces carved on trees. Native Americans for some reason had carved hundreds of cat faces on trees in the Southern part of that great Scout Ranch in New Mexico.
In 11th grade my family vacationed on Balsam Mountain, NC. In the corner of the cabin was an umbrella stand packed full of walking sticks. An old man had dug up about fifty young saplings, washed
off the roots and then from the shape of the roots he had
carved flying birds. That’s all he saw. Flying birds.
So I dug up twenty saplings about an inch in diameter and began a life-long love of carving found wood. I carved a running
cow, a moose head, antlers and all, a gigantic eagle clawed foot
and an elephant. There were others but I still have these four canes
The next year I wanted to make something special for a friend who was getting married. So I drew from a childhood memory to carve a wooden covered Bible. I had always admired the Olive wood-covered Bible that my Children’s Church teacher had. So I carved the covers out of oak and disassembled a new Bible in order to attach the covers.
A couple years later, I made another wood-covered Bible, but this one was for the girl I would eventually marry. I carved it out of mahogany and even inlayed a depiction of the suffering Lamb of God on the back cover.
Another thing I discovered in those college years was vine-wrapped sticks. In the South, honey suckle and other vines wrap tightly around young saplings and squeeze the small trees into all kinds of curlicue-shapes perfect for walking sticks. Since cutting that first vine, I have probably carved two hundred walking sticks.
During Seminary days I carved a recipe file box in the shape of a loaf of bread for my sister-in-law. I got a bakery to bake me a uniquely shaped loaf of bread to use as my pattern. You can even find beautiful shapes and designs in loaves of bread!
The next few years I was making toys and furniture for our first daughter Kristen.
There were three things that dramatically changed my ability to carve while living in Sylacauga, Alabama during the 80’s :
Boots, Ducks and the Right Side of the Brain.
Boot - A man at an art show showed me a boot he had carved and encouraged me to try carving one myself. I have now carved several thousand L’il Abner Boots and have used that pattern to teach wood carving to over 700 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Pioneer girls and adults.
Duck - In 1983, I was at a friend’s house for dinner and noticed that they had over forty duck paintings and carvings decorating their home. I saw one simply carved duck and told my friend that even I could carve a duck like that. A year or so later I had my collection of carved decoys and ducks on display at the local museum.
Right Brain Perception - My brother gave me a copy of the classic art book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. It revolutionized my ability to perceive shapes in three dimensions. These three things launched me into carving more frequently and better. With boots, I always had something to carve even if I was just sitting around. By teaching others I also had to refine my own skills. With ducks, I started noticing shapes and details that I had never paid attention to. And with Betty Edwards' help I started perceiving a whole new world around me. From then on I would carve a lot of birds, canes and discovered a new, fun interest in Santa Claus.
Once on a visit to Montgomery my mother in law suggested I go down the street to meet the neighbor who also carved. I met Joe Petranka that day and we have continued to be carving buddies for the past thirty years. Joe introduced me to carving Santa necklaces and cypress knees that grow in abundance around Montgomery, Alabama.
In 2012, I took my first carving class from Carol Jean Boyd. I wanted to learn how to carve eyes better. Carol Jean is a phenomenal artist who spent much of her career as a portrait painter.
First of all, the beauty and shape of each cypress knee never fails to draw me to want to carve them.
Secondly, it is just a fun diversion. I can sit in my den watching TV and carve a Santa. After a two hour movie, I have not only enjoyed the story but I also have something to show for the time I spent.
I love to capture the beauty in
In nature we can find some of the most intriguing shapes and designs without a human hand ever having touched it. But if you have an eye for found wood designs in trees, branches, roots and even cypress knees, you can add your own creativity to what God has already provided in nature.
That is essentially what I do when I carve Santas from cypress knees that grow off the roots of red and bald cypress trees. I see a Santa or Shepherd in the unique shape of each cypress knee. Cypress knees are one of the most interesting root formations in all of nature. Each one grows up out of the swamp in different sizes, widths, directions, twists and points. It is fascinating to just stand in a knee grove and imagine all the faces and designs presented before you on a pallet of the southern swamp and forest.
It’s like Charlie Brown and Snoopy lying on their backs looking up at the clouds. Snoopy sees Michaelangelo’s David and the scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel…
Charlie Brown says all he sees are rubber duckies and teddy bears.
Once I de-bark a batch of knees, I can hardly wait for them to dry before I can start drawing their future and carving a character that will from then on define that knee.
I hope you enjoy the fun carvings I have created and that are showcased in these galleries.
about: THE ART
about: THE ARTIST
I hope you find a hobby that is as fun and fulfilling as carving has been for me.
Through the years not only have I enjoyed carving each piece but I have also been
blessed by the pleasure of being able to give gifts that I have created.
In the movie, Chariots Of Fire, Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympic 400 meter Gold Medalist said,
“God made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure”.
I feel much the same. I have been blessed to feel God’s pleasure when I carve and enjoy his creation in new and fresh ways every day.