People With Purpose: Howard Clinthorne


ClinthorneIf you spend enough time developing a craft or skill, it can remain with you forever.

Just ask University Senior Living resident Howard Clinthorne. He began carving wood at the age of 12 and hasn’t lost his love for thecraft. In fact, the University Living community recently highlighted him and his many inspired wood carvings. After recently speaking with Howard, I really get a feel for his humorous personality and passionate background in woodcarving.

A Long History of Fine Motor Skill Practice

“I’ve been carving for about a century now.” Clinthorne giggles. “I’m kidding, but I’ve been carving wood for a long time. I just love to do it. I love all parts. Once I start I have to finish it. I’ve done around 47 wood carvings since I retired.”

Clinthorne was an orthodontist until he retired in 1991. His profession required the regular practice of fine motor skills to solidify the diagnosis, prevention and correction of malpositioned teeth and jaws. He really enjoyed working with his hands during his career and when he retired, wood carving became a vehicle for him to continue putting his skills into action in an enjoyable manual activity.

A Careful Process

Carving wood dates back as far as 4000 B.C. in ancient Egypt. Over the centuries, wood carving has been spotted just about everywhere in the world and the craft is highly respected in the historical field because it tells the stories of different time periods.

Completing a wood carving project can take a few hours, a few days or longer. The process can sometimes be tedious but woodcarvers often find it tremendously rewarding.

Clinthorne notes, “My largest piece was 10 inches tall. It took me several days to finish it. The time it takes depends on a lot of things. It depends on what I’m carving, what wood I’m using and the weather because I can’t carve in the rain!”

To begin the process of carving wood into a figure, he selects the proper wood for the project. Wood is chosen by the direction of its grain. The nature of the wood being carved limits the scope of the carver in that wood is not equally strong in all directions. Grain may be straight, wavy, fiddleback or many other types.

Following the selection of the wood, Clinthorne then draws a pattern onto the wood and uses a bandsaw to cut the pattern. After that, it’s all carving. He removes the excess wood piece by piece until the carving is finished.

“I use a knife and a chisel as my major tools for carving,” Clinthorne says. “It makes a big mess, so sometimes I do it outside or usually in my garage or basement. My hands get tired every now and then so I take a break and go eat.”

At University Living, residents are fully supported in their pursuit of hobbies old and new. We appreciate and celebrate the skills and talents of our residents and care partners, and work to make sure everyone can thrive in a comfortable environment. We’re glad to see that Mr. Clinthorne can continue practicing his wood carving and we look forward to discovering the skills of our other residents.

To see firsthand all that University Living has to offer, or for more information about our services and programs, please call me, Tanum Ollila, at 734-707-6484.

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