By Sadie Hunter
Local artist Geoff Davis has experience making many different things, from furniture to ukuleles to boats and smaller art pieces.
For about a decade, Davis has worked to create a series of wood-carved birds, “50 Little Birds,” born out of his Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.
“I’ve been doing woodworking all my life. My parents had a shop, and my grandparents both had shops, and I always had access to tools,” Davis said. “They were using them, so I used them. It’s just something I knew. I never had to learn it. I’ve studied it and taken it a lot further than they ever have.”
In the past year, he’s been working to create something new – a series of wood-carved pull toys.
“What I do now came out of the birds, which began eight to 10 years ago,” Davis said. “I was building ukuleles before that. I went to Hawaii to study ukulele-building, and I studied furniture-building before that. So, I had been carving the birds, and I’ve just always been inclined to try other things.”
Early last fall, Davis began working with larger pieces of wood, which resulted in larger finished pieces, overall.
“I got out a sketchbook and was just drawing, and the exercise I gave myself one night was the alphabet,” Davis said. “When I got to the letter E, I drew an elephant and made it into a pull toy. So a mixture of that and the size of the wood is where the pull toys came from.”
With his unique style, Davis’ works have an old-fashioned feel, something that isn’t lost on him.
“I have self-imposed rules that my style unearthed from,” Davis said. “I really liked the birds I was carving, and somewhere along the line, I sat down and asked myself why I liked them so much. It had to do with color, texture and the materials.
“What it really came down to is these are all things that would have been at my grandfather’s woodshop. I could have built any of those birds from stuff that was in his basement,” Davis added. “So I restrained myself to things that you would have been able to buy at a hardware store in the ’20s or ’30s. There are no plastics, no modern materials at all.”
In March, Davis was featured as Nickel Plate Arts’ inaugural Maker of the Month. This summer, Davis’ pieces will be featured at the Zoar Harvest Festival’s Artisan’s Tent in Zoar, Ohio, and later this fall, he will show his work at the Wilton Historical Society in Wilton, Conn.
MEET GEOFF DAVIS
Residence: Grew up in Carmel. Has lived in Noblesville since 1986.
Job: Finishing his first year of teaching sixth grade at Indianapolis Public Schools’ Francis W. Parker Montessori School No. 56. Previously taught at IPS’s Key Learning Community.
Family: Wife, Julie Davis, two daughters, Hannah Davis and Phoebe Davis.
Gallery representation: Nickel Plate Arts, Homespun: Modern Handmade, 869 Massachusettes Ave., Indianapolis; The Artisan’s Bench, 307 Main St., Brighton, Mich.; Rendall Fine Art, 65 Main St., Wiscasset, Maine.
Social media: Facebook and Instagram: 50 Little Birds
The Artisan’s Tent at the Zoar Harvest Festival
Where: 198 Main St., Zoar, Ohio
When: July 29 and 30
Wilton Historical Society
Where: 224 Danbury Rd., Wilton, Conn.
When: Nov. 3-5