Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Postcards From Ohio - An Incredible Museum

Yeah, yeah.  We've all been to lots of museums, and frankly, in most museums I go to I am, well ok I'll admit it, BORED.  But, NOT THIS ONE.

Monday we visited, toured, and were actually amazed by, the Warther Museum in Dover, Ohio.  There we experienced the story of the fascinating Warther family and their hobbies.  Ernest "Mooney" Warther, recognized by international expert carvers as the Master Carver of the world, has left a legacy of fine craftsmanship in the priceless works of art he created.  His wife, Freida, collected and arranged buttons into beautiful wall hangings.

There are problems with this museum for me.  Big problems.  However, before I get into the trouble I had after visiting this museum, let's look at how the museum and grounds are basically divided into 4 areas.

1.  The Warther Family home and gardens
      The home is decorated and preserved with pieces from the family's daily life, and the first floor is open for guests to walk through and look at how the family of seven lived.

Food for a family of 7 was made here
The family's living room

2.  The Museum of Ernest Warther's Carvings
     In the museum we saw thousands of his carvings, small to large, and simple to incredibly complex. Ernest started his carving career by making 10 cuts in a small piece of wood, creating a usable pliers.  In one display case we saw a "tree of pliers," made by putting 31,000 cuts into one single piece of wood.  What baffles me is that he knew before he made the first cut that it would require 31,000 cuts in order for his tree to be complete.  What is the formula?  How did he do this?  This piece all folds back together into one piece of wood.
The tree of pliers.
     Warther loved carving trains, and the facility showcases the 64 ebony, ivory and walnut train carvings he created throughout his life.

Here is his magnificent Lincoln Funeral Train.  It is eight feet in length and required one year to create.  Mooney was 80 when he carved this train.

3.  The Knife Shop
     Mooney developed his own method of tempering and sharpening  a steel blade that would keep its sharp edge.  Today the Warthers are in their fourth generation of knife making, and are still producing outstanding kitchen cutlery made with the same craftsmanship.  We visited the Knife Shop.  We bought some knives.  I will finally be able to cut meat without having a small workout.

Descendants of Earnest are still making knives.
4.  Freida's Button House
     Mooney's wife collected buttons, about 73,000 of them in all, and arranged them in beautiful designs.  They are displayed on the walls and ceilings of a small building behind the family home.

This arrangement is made completely of prizes from early Cracker Jacks boxes.  It is also displayed in the Button House.

An amazing place.  Ernest "Mooney" Warther was an incredible artist with an incomprehensible gift.  Most likely, you have not heard of this museum.  We also, would not have known of its existence if my parents had not been there previously and told us about it.  If you are in the area, GO THERE.  You will leave the place dumbfounded.

I mentioned earlier that I have some problems with this museum, and here they are:

1.  I cannot completely fathom how a human can create such beauty by himself.

2.  I cannot figure out how one man can create so much stuff that is so detailed in one lifetime.

3.  Mooney would see the art in a piece of wood he would hold in his hand.  How?

4.  Before Mooney would start on a piece he would announce the date of its completion.  How could he know, before he even made one cut, when it would be finished?  (He didn't just estimate, he gave exact dates of completion.)

5.  I believe Mooney's mind was in the league of Albert Eistein's, or better.  How else could he see and do all the things he did?

6.  How did he wake up each night at 2 or 3 AM, carve for 4 hours, work all day at his real job, then still have energy left for his wife and 5 children?

I could go on and on with the things that baffled me and amazed me about the man and his work.  Let me just say that when I left this museum, I was overwhelmed and in awe at what I had just heard and seen.  Truly this is a gem of a place, showing the legacy of a very special man and his family.  

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