Carving out artwork for 30 years

Jersey Hills Woodcarving Club celebrates 30 years, looks for new members

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  • Photos by George LeRoy Hunter An up close look at Cliff Harrison's flower. Harrison is a retired professor and a resident of West Milford.

  • Ken Dispoto of Sussex with his carved creations on a table and a cellphone picturing a finished product.

  • Earl Post of Sparta shows off his cane he carved and designed. The cane is made of red alder wood.

  • Don Scott of Sparta working on a carved spoon collection.

  • Henry J. Hanzo Jr. of Oak Ridge shows a carving of a fish. Hanzo is the President of the Jersey Hills Wood Carvers.

Two hands, a single block of wood and a bit of creativity can bring a tree's remnants to life. For 30 years, the Jersey Hills Woodcarving Club has been doing just that.

Made up of men and women residents of all ages from the North Jersey area, members meet twice a month at the Jefferson Township High School to carve out anything and everything from wood.

"Everybody does their own thing," said Henry Hanzo, President of JHWC and resident of Oak Ridge. "Some carve characters, some fish, some birds, some do leaf carving. I do all of these things but now I do pyrography."

Also known as wood burning, pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks.

Along with pyrography, Hanzo carves portraits or busts, more human figures.

"We have a guy that carves Santa Claus and sells his stuff, said Hanzo. "Some sell things, some keep things.... Everything has own shtick."

There is a member who carves ducks, which Hanzo says is a "whole separate animal in itself."

Another member specializes in flowers and miniature birds that are no more than two inches high. Or another member who carves watches that are about one foot long.

Hanzo became a member in 2000 after he retired and his neighbor bugged him to join. Since then Hanzo has become the President of the group and really enjoys carving.

"If I need a Christmas or birthday present, I try to carve what best fits their personality," Hanzo said.

The club started in late 1970s as an evening school class by a high school biology teacher named Earl Post. The class then turned into JHEC club in 1983 as a natural continuation of the evening school class at the High School.

The first club-wide project was a large totem pole, hand carved for the Watchung Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. The totem pole, completed in the spring of 1991, still stands at Camp Winnebago, according to the club's release.

Over the years the club has undertaken several other community service projects and hosts sessions for boy and girl scouts troops as well.

The members also volunteer their time doing demonstrations at several venues including the NJ State Fair in Sussex County, Jefferson Day, the Pequest Fish Hatchery, the Ramsey Outdoor Store, Lord Sterling Park, and others.

The club meets at 7 to 9 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month at Jefferson Township High School. Members of all skill levels are welcome.

"No one needs to be intimidated to join," said Hanzo. "There is no cost. Just a block knife and a band aid."

To learn more about the club visit or contact Hanzo at 973-697-1216 or

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