Arnold Shrewsbury first caught the woodworking bug in high school — but it wasn’t until he moved to Panola County about 32 years ago that he took it back up and began to really turn it into a cherished hobby.
While working at a school, Shrewsbury said a man from Dallas came to show students how to make pens and pencils. He himself got interested and bought a wood lathe and a band saw and some other equipment.
“For years I had a business where I sold a lot of pens and letter openers and keychains,” he said. “Then it just kind of kept going and going, and I got bored with making pens and I wanted to do something else. I started bowls, then I started finding exotic woods for sale, because I wanted to do something different all the time.”
An exhibition of his work — all of it as different and unique from each other as Shrewsbury enjoys — is currently on display at the M.P. Baker Library at Panola College in Carthage.
The exhibit is free and open to the public during normal library hours: Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; and Sunday from 4 to 9 p.m. For more information, call (903) 693-2052 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shrewsbury is a retired minister and author. Cristie Ferguson, director of library services, said she was first introduced to Shrewsbury’s work on Facebook. They decided to feature his art as part of a wider initiative to concentrate on local artists from Panola County.
“If other people have hidden talents, we want them to share it with us,” she said.
A reception for Shrewsbury’s work was held Wednesday at the library, where friends, Panola College employees and students, and community members came to view and admire the different pieces. The exhibit includes everything from bowls to pens to sculptures to clocks.
They’re all hand-turned creations. Shrewsbury uses exotic woods he buys or picks up while traveling. The wood itself sometimes has imperfections — a detail Shrewsbury loves.
“It’s the beauty of the wood,” he said. “And here’s a thing about wood: After you turn it, there’ll never ever be another one exactly like it. Ever. Never! You could never make another one of these.”
One of Shrewsbury’s favorite woods is red box elder, which has streaks of red coloring caused by bug saliva. Some of his pieces have wood spalting, where the wood has started to rot because of water. It lends the wood various colors.
Another piece in his collection is a ball of wood highlighting a giant, intricate knot. Shrewsbury picked the piece of wood up in Ohio while visiting a friend.
“There was an old tree laying down,” Shrewsbury said. “I walked over and said ‘Can I have a piece of this?’ He had a chainsaw and he cut me a couple of pieces from it.”
“You have to be careful when you turn this because if I had went a little further, it would have blown up. So I couldn’t really go deep on the inside of it, but the idea is to see the uniqueness of the wood. And if you look at that wood, you can see different things in there. I have people tell me I see a skeleton,” he said.