Tony Mansill of Dannevirke, like most of us, was locked down at alert level 4 and 3 for seven weeks. His job at Canterbury Spinners was on hold and worse still his passion for boxing was halted when Bams Boxing went into hibernation.
He had one stroke of luck however, good friends had provided him with plenty of wood – not to burn but to carve because they knew his other passion was chainsaw carving – and he was pretty good at it.
So in his workshop he set to work creating numerous sculptures, some to order, and some choices of his own using a chainsaw, grinder and burner.
Choice of topic was influenced initially by an upcoming sculpture tournament at Kimbolton with a rural theme. For it he created some gumboots, some trout and a chook using pictures as his guide but when the tournament was cancelled he turned his focus to other things.
Anzac came along so he created a special 2020 sculpture, silver fern, soldiers marching and a teddy to reflect the symbol of hope during the Covid-19 crisis.
He made a set of sheep shears and a truck for locals because he had earned a lot of respect from requests in the past like a police car as a parting gift for Constable Dave Kirk who left Pongaroa and a sculpture of books for his Father-in-Law George Seatter's 80th birthday.
Out of the swamp totara log from which he had carved the gumboots he also fashioned a snake and a Scottish thistle. While he generally prefers macrocarpa, he created a 2017 America's Cup carving from hard Australian tawa.
Tony says he could not have done it without the materials and is very grateful to Stu Perry, Ernie Christison and Hamish Campbell for keeping their eyes open for potential wood.
He was sad to miss the opportunity to carve the totara at Dannevirke High School by the music room two years ago as it was firewood before he knew it was available, so when Clark Harris of Out On A Limb pre-warned him an oak was for demolition at school he persuaded principal Di Carter to let him carve something memorable.
For the last fortnight working at weekends he has carved the trunk copying the pattern used for his father-in-law's 80th. The oak was rotten in the centre but very careful sawing and grinding has created a remarkable sculpture on King St.
Senior students from the high school were recruited to put the pokerwork labels on the books and they did a wonderful job.
Tony added the colouring and the four coats of oil to protect the sculpture as well as a steel cap for the top to protect the core, the last coat was just dry before the predicted rain came on Sunday.
A project like this can take 40 hours of twisting and concentration but it is a labour of love.
Tony is back at work and coincidentally the previous Monday brought up 35 years working for Canterbury Spinners.
With boxing on hold at present but box-fit operating he still has time to create more items if people want a specific one and better still if they have wood. He is happy to negotiate. Ring him on 06 374 7212 or 0273742192.