Craig Smith is a professional pumpkin carver, rock painter, wood carver and artist in Shelton, Conn. Smith started out carving figures up to eight inches, and has now made 23 figures, including luge and bobsled athletes carved in metal. He has been coming to the Sturgis motorcycle rally for 10 years, and this year brought with him a carving of Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper from the film Easy Rider. His work is now on display at the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce. The Journal chatted with him on Friday.
How long does it take to carve a piece? From concept to fabrication, it takes about a year and a half. That's getting the idea, sketching it out and getting all of the supplies ready. The actually fabrication and carving take about a month and a half. Everything is done with knives and chisels.
How did it all start? I started carving hiking sticks and other things in the Boy Scouts of America in 1960 at camps. Then it started with simple signs. Then I did a piece of the HMS Rose Ship to endorse saving a lighthouse in Connecticut. Now I'm with the Easy Rider Show.
How many Sturgis visits for you? I started coming to Stugis in 2003, and this is my 10th year at the rally, but the wood carvings have been here 11 years. That first year I shipped it through UPS to be out here for the rally. The spirit is here.
Why do you love carving? It's just plain fun to talk to people and to meet all the people I've met over the years. I don't sell any of my work, I usually end up donating it all. The market is monstrous, so people are making money off this, but that's not the spirit of it.
What's your favorite piece? In 1979 I was making trophy putters for the U.S Open, then in 1980 I was making sculptures for the Olympics. That was pretty historic for me.