Barking up the hobbit tree
Rockland — Wayne Keiderling of Warren may be retired, but he spends much of his time building houses. His are not stick-built dwellings, however. Keiderling’s medium of choice is bark, and his buildings easily rest on the palms of his hands.
“There’s a real hobbit housing problem,” he said as he opened one of the Rockland Public Library display cases earlier this month.
Keiderling’s buildings are on display through February in the first-floor cases, and one is indeed a hobbit hole, the most famous of all. He and his wife had gone to see “The Hobbit” movie a day earlier, and he was pleased to see how closely his own little round door matched the one on the silver screen.
The bark Keiderling uses come from dead cottonwood trees and while Maine does have its share, he gets it from all over the country and beyond.
“It has to be quite old, so the bark is very thick,” he said, handling a yet-to-be-carved hunk from British Columbia that is part of the library display.
Keiderling, who also does more traditional wildlife carvings, has been carving about four years. He is a member of the Penobscot Bay Carvers and Artists Association, which has a popular show every year at the Belfast Boathouse, and also has shown via the new Union Art League. He has a number of blue ribbons for his work.
“I haven’t really marketed it … I do it for fun, but people seem to like it and some want to buy it,” he said.
The carved buildings on display are not limited to J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy, although Keiderling clearly has an affection for that imagined world; outhouses are another favorite subject. One carving combines the literary and the literal, offering a “Wasses Hobbit Dogs” stand.
“I got permission from Keith Wass to use the name,” Keiderling said.
And he does not just carve the exterior of his buildings; they can be turned around to reveal interior details, which the library’s mirrored cases show handily.
“Ninety percent of it is handcarved. I do use a power tool to hollow them out and woodburning too,” he said, pointing out a burned “brick” face.
The library itself is honored in one of the larger carvings. When Keiderling began to think about where he might share his whimsical work with the community, Rockland Public Library came right to mind, as he spends a lot of time there. Librarian Patty King said the display cases are available for library users to exhibit all manner of interesting objects.
“We’ve had artwork, animal bones, (work by) a hatmaker who makes hats for theatrical productions, a young person’s Lego collection, items from local museums, exhibits by nonprofit organizations,” she said.
King said the library is open to all kinds of collections, art, crafts — just about anything a community member may wish to display. The exhibits usually run about a month.
The cases are in a hallway just off the main circulation desk area. Although they are opposite the children’s library area, Keiderling’s work has attracted younger library users’ interest.
“Kids really like them,” he said of his carvings.
The point was made clear at a fundraising raffle event the Rockland Kiwanis held at Trackside Station. Keiderling, a Kiwanis member, donated a carved castle that caught the eye of a lucky young attendee.
“Lynn Taylor’s daughter Lindsey won a little castle and was so excited,” he said.
Keiderling’s carved creations may be seen during regular library hours. To inquire about having an exhibit in the library display cases, contact King at the library, 594-0310. Keiderling can be contacted at 273-2914.
Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115 or firstname.lastname@example.org.