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Jack Price

  • Jessica Pounds/Cleburne Times Review

Jack Price of Cleburne chips away at a block of wood at his home on Tuesday. Price and the Nolan River Chippers of Cleburne are finishing pieces they will use to raise funds at the Texas Woodcarvers Guild April 1-7 at the Cleburne Conference Center.

It might seem tedious to take a chisel and repetitively strike a piece of wood, sometimes for hours at a time. It might actually even begin to hurt after a while.

But the final product of the wood that has been chipped away is an intricate piece of art that can be made of use.

From figurines of people to realistic looking food to animals of all types, members of the Nolan River Chippers of Cleburne are planning to create and donate various pieces so that they may use the funds raised for a special mission.

Comfort crosses

When facing health care challenges, many people turn to others to seek comfort and relief.

The Nolan River Chippers recently began giving people who are in care of some type a small cross to hold in their hands to remind them they are loved.

The idea for comfort crosses came about when woodcarver Jack Price of Cleburne was visiting with a friend in Lubbock.

“He is a hospice volunteer and said when he goes to a place the first thing he does is gives them a gentle hug to let them know someone loves them, and then they pray together,” he said. “Then he gives them a little prayer partner.”

A prayer partner is a wooden figurine of a man on his knees, praying.

“He tells them when he is not there, that is his prayer partner,” Price said. “He said one fella wanted it by his bed so he could see it and if he was in his wheelchair he wanted it in his pocket. He told me when he passed away and they buried him, he had it in his hands.”

Price said he thought small crosses could have the same type of meaning for people.

“I thought as a group we could do something like this so I searched the Internet for different types of crosses that would be easy for us to carve,” he said. “I came across a company in Bethlehem that make them out of olive wood. We don’t have that wood here and they were selling them for $1 each. We couldn’t beat that.”

Price ordered 100 of the comfort crosses so the group could distribute them to hospice and oncology facilities, nursing homes and Meals on Wheels of Johnson and Ellis Counties.

“These people who make the crosses are Christians living in Bethlehem,” he said. “This is the way they make a living. So instead of us making the crosses, we are also supporting them. It’s a very worthy cause.”

Woodcarver Lonnie Vaughn of Glen Rose recently gave one to his 97-year-old mother-in-law.

“She is very sharp mentally, but physically she is not at all,” he said. “And she just loves that cross. She keeps it with her in her hands and carries it around at all times.”

Woodcarver J.R. Reynolds of Joshua has heart complications and takes his own cross with him while he is waiting at the doctor’s office to have tests done.

“I just sit in the waiting room and rub that cross the whole time,” he said. “It makes me feel better.”

The Texas Woodcarvers Guild is hosting an event April 1-7 at the Cleburne Conference Center, 1501 W. Henderson St.

“That’s where we will be set up to sell our own pieces we have made to make money to buy the comfort crosses,” Price said. “There will be classes all week and we will be selling our pieces April 1-2.”

For more information about the event, visit

All are welcome

Nolan River Chippers meet at 6:30 p.m. the second Thursday each month at the Cleburne Senior Center, 1212 Glenwood Drive.

Price said the group appeals more to retirees, who need something to do with their extra time.

“We’d be glad to teach them,” he said. “There is always something you can make out of a piece of wood if you just chop it up.”

Nolan River Chippers President Dallas Branley said the group has about 30 active members.

“Carving clubs across the nation have been declining over the past few years, including membership in ours,” he said. “I talked with a reporter from one of the leading wood carving magazines and he talked about a club in Chicago that once had 800 members and is now completely gone. It’s that way over the entire U.S.”

The few dozen members in Nolan River Chippers each have various reasons that led them to wood carving.

Branley said he first began carving while he was trying to learn how to make furniture.

“I got started in the club here and then I never did get into furniture making,” he joked. “One of the first pieces I ever did was a buffalo out of bass wood and leather die.”

Price said his wife was looking at wood carvings at a store when he decided he ought to start carving himself.

“At my first show I had a table and my friend had a magnificent display on shelves,” he said. “People were coming in and saying, ‘My God, look at that.’ And then they’d walk right past my table. I had my pieces inside of an antique clock case. I think I sold about $28 worth, but had a few offers on the clock.”

Vaughn is the newest member of the group.

“I had a new neighbor move in next door to me and he got me started,” he said. “The first thing he did was give me a piece of wood and a knife and told me to carve my thumb.It was the perfect thing to look at and it got me started. I’ve always liked to make things so I really enjoy it.”

His neighbor, Stanley Stover, said he began carving in 1985.

“I saw this ad in the newspaper about woodcarving classes and it said it was free,” he said. “Free is a very attractive word, but everyone knows that you usually get what you pay for. Well, I went to the class and sure enough my pocket knife didn’t get me very far. So they put me in Jack Price’s class.”

Cleburne group provides comfort with crosses

The Texas Woodcarvers Guild (TWG) was founded in 1987 by a group of talented and dedicated woodcarvers wanting to share their skills and perpetuate the art of woodcarving. We are a 501C3 nonprofit fraternal organization. Current membership includes several hundred members from the United States and Canada.

The Guild is governed by a Board consisting of a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and five Directors. An event, the Spring Round-Up, is held yearly in Cleburne, Texas at the Cleburne Convention Center. Cleburne is located just a little South West of the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex.  The event runs for 7 days and starts with a 2 day show, sale and judged competition. Also we have 7 days of carving seminars, featuring 20 to 30 exceptional carving instructors.

Informational newsletters and bulletins are distributed to the membership throughout the year.  A specific Members Only and Instructors areas are available.

Our annual business meeting is conducted at the event along with other fun activities, such as an auction, carving competition and just plain fellowship in the Carvers Corner.
Joining the guild is easy and can be accomplished online. Family or individual dues are $20 a year. Additional information, such as local clubs in your area is available on this website or by contacting one of our Leaders.

Seminars are held at the annual event and can run from 1 to 5 days. Instructors strive for a completed project, but progress is dependent on the student’s experience. Most instructors welcome beginners, intermediate and advanced carvers. We offer a 2 day beginner seminar just for the new or inexperienced carver. Seminar descriptions are published in the Newsletter and on the website several months in advance.  Seminars participation is available to all Guild members. We offer easy online enrollment including payment of associated fees. We have 2 wood and 2 tool vendors where you can purchase supplies for your future carving needs.

Yearly family or individual membership is available online or by US mail. Dues are only $20 a year. In the Pay Fees section you can also pay other fees such as your event registration fee or rent a show table. Seminar and material cost are paid directly to the instructor at the start of the seminar. After joining the Guild, you will be sent your Members Only login name and password.

The Members Only area of the website has several additional member benefits.  You will find carving hints and tips as well as a few carving instruction videos. You will also have access to the membership roster, Guild history documents, guiding documents for guild operation, and board meeting minutes. Plus many other additional details and information is available to members only in this area.

The Texas State Carving Championship competition is held annually during the Guild’s Spring Round-Up. It is a judged competition with divisions for junior and senior youth, novice, intermediate, and open skill levels of competition.  Within each skill level are many different carving categories.  Enter the competition if you would like to gauge your artwork against your peers. Come to look and enjoy if you want to be impressed with the state of woodcarving today.

A carving show and sale takes place in parallel with the carving competition. Please check the event schedule for the next show. It is worth a visit to see the fantastic hand carved artwork. You can also purchase handcrafted unique gifts.

Renting a show table entitles you to enter carvings in competition, display and sell your carvings.

Here you find late breaking news concerning TWG event status and operation. Volunteer needs, and other important information.




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