Everyone visiting my daughter’s Monterey home is greeted by a beautifully sculpted redwood dolphin leaping from an oceanic scene. A sculpted sea turtle, a clam, and an abundance of barnacles are incorporated into the redwood base. This amazing work of art was designed and created locally by one of many Dos Palos artisans.

TJ McCarty with McCarty Wood Sculpting, after years of practice and building his craft, is a full-time artisan living in Dos Palos. TJ tells how he got started creating redwood sculptures.

Friends and family say they were amazed when he pointed out a sculpted bear one day and announced, “I think I can do that.” He confesses that he had been contemplating wood sculpting for years. He recalls going hunting in the mountains as a teen and seeing natural wood-designed objects along the road in Coarsegold.

One day TJ took the plunge. He hauled home a pine stump and carved a bear head. He kept practicing. Then fate kicked in, and he lost his job. To fill the time, he carved what he calls “ugly bears, but they sold right off the side of the road.” He was relieved to be able to pay his bills.

Then TJ had eight years of great jobs, although he continued to practice his carving skills after work. Unexpectedly, one year he lost a job two weeks before Christmas. He decided to give his wood sculpting his all and let God do the rest.

As the saying goes, “Let go, and let God.” TJ looks upon his family as being blessed. Doors through which to do business opened. He concludes, “That’s it.”

TJ is thrilled to work from home and see his daughters and wife wake up every morning. He feels blessed to keep carving and building beautiful things out of logs.

Much of TJ’s work has been bear sculptures. He depicts a multitude of bear variations. Many hold signs with light-hearted advice or greetings. Recently, he designed a Pooh bear complete with a red shirt.

After mastering bears, TJ branched out, carving other animals of the forest and sky. He developed many types of birds, with owls being a specialty.

Some clients ask him to immortalize family pets in wood. One grandson has a forever remembrance of his beloved dog, Scar.

Recently, a popular winery asked McCarty to replicate their wooden totem pole. This branched into creating tiki poles.

Furniture pieces range from rustic to refined. Many tables are accompanied by benches. Benches with backs can be simply resting places or memorials. Some have carved bears to form supporting legs. The backrests offer sayings, dates or exhibit mountain designs such as trees and animals.

McCarty routers signage with family names, street addresses, camp or ranch names and directions. He adds dates to signs or furniture for weddings and such. Memorial wooden crosses have the deceased name and dates. He can inscribe any favored message onto beautiful redwood.

All of McCarty Wood Sculpting creations are crafted from reclaimed wood salvaged from urban neighborhoods where trees need to be removed for various reasons. Suppliers call when they have a load. He helps by taking the logs out of their way. In return, he gets the material he needs.

TJ modestly admits, “Pretty much anything with wood I can do, but it has been a long road.” He built his own custom trailer for logging. Additionally, TJ customizes dimensional lumber using his own sawmill.

McCarty Wood Sculpting offers sculptures, signs, and furniture designs. One message bench quotes John Muir, “And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”

Interested clients can see photos of works mentioned here and other pieces at McCarty Wood Sculpting on Facebook. For information call (209) 819-6049.

Janet Miller

Janet Miller is a freelance writer specializing in family faith. She offers Family Prayers and Activities: Weekly Guides on compact disc for families to explore the Bible together. Email jmiller@dospalos.org.