Master of his craft: Woodcarver gives demonstration, answers questions

WATCHING: Attendees of Saturday's woodcarving demonstration gather around Andrei Marek as he carves. "When you make something by hand and you have to duplicate it, they will never be perfect," he explained. "They will be similar, but they will be unique still." (Pioneer photos/Emily Grove-Davis)

WATCHING: Attendees of Saturday’s woodcarving demonstration gather around Andrei Marek as he carves. “When you make something by hand and you have to duplicate it, they will never be perfect,” he explained. “They will be similar, but they will be unique still.” (Pioneer photos/Emily Grove-Davis)

BIG RAPIDS  — Master woodcarver Andrei Marek has been carving for more than 35 years, and while some may assume it gets boring to him after all this time, he disagrees.

“I consider myself lucky because I don’t have to go on vacation often because my work is very relaxing,” Marek smiled. “I’ve done what I love all my life, so I’m very fortunate.”

On Saturday, about 50 people were able to ask questions and observe Marek as he carved in Ferris State University’s Heavy Equipment Center Auditorium as part of a demonstration event for the 2015 Festival of the Arts.

Marek, who resides in Holland, first attended art and woodworking school in his native Romania. He then completed an apprenticeship and became a master woodcarver. After several years of work in Romania, he and his family moved to the United States in the 1990s, where he began carving for the Baker Furniture Company in Grand Rapids.

Now, Marek creates custom furniture and sculptural pieces such as a fireplace mantel, which was entered in the 2014 Art Prize competition.

FOCUSED: Andrei Marek carves out the center of a flower as part of a design he's working on.

FOCUSED: Andrei Marek carves out the center of a flower as part of a design he’s working on.

“The tools I use are the same type of things used in this ancient craft 2,000 to 3,000 years ago,” Marek said. “Plus, I’m putting in a little elbow grease.”

During the demonstration, audience members were able to walk up to a display of varying examples of Marek’s intricate and precise designs. They were able to get up close and take turns standing around Marek as he worked. Those who wished to remain in their seats could see what Marek was carving on the live-feed being projected on a large screen behind him.

David Cowles attended the demonstration and was glad Festival of the Arts brought Marek to Big Rapids.

Cowles is a woodcarver himself and was impressed with the work Marek showcased.

“I’m doing smaller, decorative stuff, but doing what he’s doing would be a dream,” Cowles said. “I think he’s fantastic.”

STEP ONE: After chiseling out a portion of his design, Andrei Marek lifts up the piece to get a better angle for the audience. As part of the demonstration, attendees could stand around Marek's table as he worked or remain in their seats and see him carving on a large screen.

STEP ONE: After chiseling out a portion of his design, Andrei Marek lifts up the piece to get a better angle for the audience. As part of the demonstration, attendees could stand around Marek’s table as he worked or remain in their seats and see him carving on a large screen.

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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