Generations of Memories
Heart of the Blue Ridge
By Bob Heafner © 1983-2012
Issue: April, 1983
A section of the Mountain Laurel will be dedicated each month to those people who believe there are not any Americans left who still take pride in their workmanship. We will feature crafts people in Patrick, Carroll, and Floyd Counties each month who do not only take pride in what they do but who have brought their particular talent to a state of the art. These people are gifted and their products are a result of their dedication and effort to do something with pride.
Glendon Boyd, as a small boy, tramped through the woods with his father, Turner Boyd to go hunting, “Just the right young white oak trees to make splits for chair bottoms. We would always look on the north bank of a creek because that’s where the straightest ones grew, with their branches reaching straight up for the sun. I went to help him carry the wood back but I spent most of the time running ahead, hunting small pieces of wood to carve whistles out of.”
Until five years ago, that was the extent of Glendon Boyd’s carving. At that time, his father died. His father had worked with wood all his life making ax handles and wooden rakes and such, so Glendon figured it would be fitting if he could carve his father’s likeness out of wood. As he carved, “It just seemed to come to me what to do next.” The result was a small statue that looked remarkably like his father. During our conversation with Glendon Boyd about his father, the word love was never mentioned but to see that first carving of Turner Boyd, sitting in a straight backed chair shaping an ax handle, it didn’t have to be spoken, it was apparent.
Over the last five years, Glendon has continued to carve and his ability to take a section of log and create a work of art is no less than magnificent. The detail of each carving is so complete that facial lines and personalities are reflected in the characters. His carving of “THE NEW RIVER 200 YEARS AGO” depicts two canoes running over white water rapids, one canoe has an Indian manning the paddle and carrying a wild turkey home from the hunt; in the other is a frontiersman transporting a deer. The carving was made from a solid piece of wood and is over two feet long. Looking at this carving, with sunlight reflecting over it, you can almost see the water tossing the canoes about as it glistens and cascades over the rocks.
Glendon Boyd is an artist with a natural ability that goes far beyond the training capabilities of any art school. Talent such as his goes beyond a degree, it is a gift. Not a gift without effort however, his carving of the “LAST SUPPER” took over 800 hours of hard work to complete. In order to devote more of his time to his work, Glendon gave up his job with a local sawmill last year. Since then he has relied on his talent for his livelihood.
Glendon’s talents aren’t limited to only carving. He has given demonstrations at Ferrum College’s Blue Ridge Institute on making wooden rakes using methods he was shown by his father. He is a fourth generation wood worker. He is also one of the few people today who makes old fashioned dough bowls. When making dough bowls, he hand selects each piece of wood. When I asked how he hollows out the bowls, he replied it was a trade secret, something he studied on for quite some time before figuring it out. When the solution finally came to him it was the middle of the night and he got out of bed and went to his shop to give it a try. The next morning when he took it to the house to give it to his wife, he says, “I jumped six feet off the ground, I was so happy.” The bowls he makes are beautiful and no two are alike. He uses the tools his father used and signs most of his work.
Glendon Boyd doesn’t brag on his work but in his quiet way, it is apparent he takes great pride in everything he does. When I asked if the facial details were hard to carve, he replied, “When you get down to the details, they just come to you.” Those who have seen the work of Glendon Boyd can only admire and appreciate his talent and be thankful that for him, details, “Just come.”
His shop is located at his home on state road 637 near Floyd County High School. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by and look at the work of a Floyd County artist. His work is on sale at his shop and at very reasonable prices. He also has frames and many other items, all of which are made with the same quality of workmanship as those we have described.
We at the Mountain Laurel are convinced that due to the incomparable quality of this man’s work, someday items which he has made and signed will be priceless. If you are a skeptic, go by and look for yourself; we’re sure you’ll agree.