Sharpening his Talent
Madison’s Scott takes whittling
to a whole new level
He carves mushroom shapes out of deer antlers
(January 2014) – While snow may be creeping up outside around Ronald C. Scott’s doorway, down in his basement the Madison, Ind., artist has discovered a way to stay surrounded with spring all year long.
As Scott, 64, was working on a display mount of deer antlers and artificial flowers last year, he was unable to locate the sort of mushrooms he wanted to complete the piece.
Photo by Lela Bradshaw
Ronald Scott of Madison, Ind., developed a passion for carving mushrooms out of deer
antlers while hunting for morel
mushrooms in the springtime.
“When you find antler sheds, it’s in the springtime. What in the springtime is the most precious thing? Mushrooms!”
A lifelong hunter of morel mushrooms, he had a very specific image in mind for his display. “I looked all over Madison and couldn’t find what I wanted,” he recalls.
The poured concrete mushrooms he was able to find did not fit with the realistic flowers he was using, and so he began thinking he would try to create something on his own. Scott took out his dremel tool and began carving one of the many deer antlers in his collection. He soon had not only the sort of natural looking mushroom he needed for that one project, but a whole new hobby as well. He began carving mushrooms for small shelf displays and as toppers for walking sticks.
Scott estimates that it takes him two or three hours to carve a mushroom. “When I do them, I use the base (of the antlers),” he explains. That lower part of the antler is “real spinney looking; it gives you that real mushroom texture. Every set of horns has its own presence. No two are alike.”
These variations help make his carvings even more natural looking. He has been experimenting with his carvings and recently began using a rustic paint on some pieces after finding that a tea dye did not give him the realistic colors he wanted. “On mushrooms, some are white and some are grays,” he says. “In the springtime, you find the black and tan.”
Scott admits to becoming attached to his works, saying, “When you make them, it’s hard to sell them or give them away.”
While he has given some of his carvings away as gifts to family members and others with an enthusiasm for deer, “Right now I just enjoy doing it for my own self. I’ve always liked art.”
Since retiring from I.K.E.C.’s Clifty Creek Power Plant in Madison, he has had more time to explore his talents. Before he took up carving, he spent many hours in the woods photographing and videotaping deer and other wildlife.
Scott traces part of his appreciation of art and nature to his mother, Bettie Scott, who painted and wrote poetry. Much of her writing drew inspiration from the outdoors as shown in her poems “Dewdrop,” “Spring Awakening” and “Early Morn,” which are collected in her book, “The Catching of Time Poems.”
For Scott, carving the antlers into mushrooms allows him to combine two of his elements of the outdoors. “I’ve been in love with deer all my life,” he says.
Over the years, he has harvested an impressive number of deer and “while I love to hunt, it’s more fun to get out and see things.”
He finds that the memory of seeing young eagles flying or a family of deer interacting can be just as rewarding as bringing home a prize buck. In addition to deer, Scott is also “a mushroom hunter – I love to go out in the spring.”
Finding the morel mushrooms can be difficult to do since they easily blend into the forest background. But Scott has been training his eye since he was a child. He explains that “you can walk up and look and look and look” and never see anything. Then, he says, once you can find one, “start scanning” and more will seem to appear as if by magic. He also jokes that his favorite walking stick – with a mushroom that he carved on top – is perfect for bringing him good luck in finding the elusive mushrooms.
And so on snowy days when deer season is over and mushrooms are still months away, Scott heads down to his basement to create a bit of springtime with his art. “Me as an outdoorsman, sometimes on bad weather days I come down here and reminisce about what I enjoy doing in life. I love getting out, walking around, thinking about things.”
His wife, Georgetta, laughs, saying, “He’s got something that keeps him occupied.” While she enjoys her husband’s artistic pursuits, she says that he is the real outdoors person of the family. “I like to go for a walk,” she says with a smile.
And of her husband’s passion for the woods, she chimes: “I’m glad he enjoys it!”
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