Along Main Street in downtown Edgefield, one man proudly displays his life’s work.
Wood worker Ike Carpenter, who has a business along Main Street called the Carpenter’s Stand says: “It’s been a family tradition for a long time you might say.”
Wood work, that is.
“My granddad and dad were wood carvers,” explained Carpenter. “Being named Carpenter I think it’s in the blood that you’re going to be a wood worker.”
And Ike has been whittling wood for most of his life.
“It doesn’t have to be a major deal. Just sharp steel and a piece of wood and I’m pretty much happy,” added Carpenter. “I carved from age seven. My two older brothers and I would go down to the railroad track, and I found a broken blade in a bamboo cane. I took two popsicle sticks and wrapped some string and made me a little knife and I started carving with that knife.”
That’s one of the many tales Ike tells. He’s also well known as a storyteller. So much so, that he’s been recognized as one of the top folk artists in South Carolina.
“Every year the McKissick Museum up in Columbia gives this award,” explained Carpenter. “It’s an award that’s given for folk artists who get out and do what we do.”
It’s an award that he almost missed out on. Yeah, you better believe he’s got a story for that too .
“I was doing some things for the museum and they sent me two letters at one time.” said Carpenter. “I thought they were both the same. I didn’t open the one where I had won the award.”
He eventually got read in and now proudly displays his folk heritage award at the Carpenter’s Stand.
Ike said one of his favorite things to carve are spoons. His Georgia and South Carolina spoons tend to be fan favorites, but once you see the process he actually goes through to make one of these, it makes them even bigger works of art.
“I like doing the work with just the tools our ancestors had and turn out a nice spoon or bowl or something like that and then have somebody come up and want to buy it. That’s it,” said Carpenter.
Ike does take his show on the road from time to time. But most of his days are spent here.
Splitting, chopping, scraping, and smoothing masterpieces big and small.