Sculptor George Carruth wants to make you smile. For more than two decades, the Waterville stone carver has fashioned quirky cats, fanciful suns and moons and other funny faces in his Northwest Ohio studio.
“Everything I do is lighthearted,” he says. “They are feel-good stones.”
Carruth first became captivated with his craft in 1983, while he was a sculptor working at American Greetings and charged with bringing the company’s Care Bears to life for use on figurines. During his lunch hour, Carruth would walk the few blocks from his office to the Lake Erie shoreline. He was fascinated by the carvings made in the sandstone breakwall.
“This wasn’t sloppy, vandalistic graffiti,” he says. “The people who made a mark here were immi-grants who carved their name and the country they came from in neat, impressive letters.”
Carruth decided to try his hand at design. He picked up a screwdriver and set to work carving faces in rocks he found along the beach. “I would give the finished product to friends to put in their garden,” he says. “The end result was a nice organic surprise.”
Through the years, the artist’s repertoire has expanded to include 415 designs placed on a host of inspirational items, including candles, plaques and bookends. They can be found in specialty stores around the country –– from his Garden Smiles retail outlet at Polaris Towne Center in Columbus to the gift shop in Washington National Cathedral.
The bulk of his work is patterned after images that were popular during the Middle Ages.
“Back then, artists depicted a king, his second-in-command, his peasants and his property, all on a four-inch square of ivory,” the artist says. “I was so taken by this imagery –– it’s so magical.”
Carruth has taken his love of nature and his art a step further. He and daughter Libby have designed and written a trio of children’s books about the environment and the importance of following your dreams.
“Carving stone is really hard work –– it’s hard on your hands, it’s hard on your back,” he says. “At first, I wanted to do it just to make me happy. But life didn’t unfold that way. I’m proud of the fact that others like my work, too.”
For more information, call 419/878-3060 or visit www.carruthstudio.com