Following in his family’s footsteps, David Warther excels as a maritime artist. The detailed work takes time and patience to create the beautifully finished ships that can be found at this exhibit. Three years ago, David decided to open a museum to display room after room of his carved masterpieces. David Warther Carvings is located on Route 39 between Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek.
His passion for carving began as a child. He wanted to do what his grandfather, Ernest Warther, did – make carvings. But his object wasn’t trains, like his grandfather, but ships instead.At the age of six, he took scraps of wood to make his first ship. His mother kept that ship all these years and it is on display in the museum today.
As a junior in high school he finished his first carving the USCGC Eagle, using ivory, ebony, abalone pearl and walnut. The Eagle was used as a training cutter for officers in the United States Coast Guard. David’s love of ships continued to grow.
Not only can you see impressive ships with scrimshaw engraving at this exhibit, but David tells the history of the times and points out special features on different carvings. The displays are grouped according to a time-line for the ships, from ancient history of Egypt in 3000 B.C. to modern times.
A carving of the royal ship of an Egyptian Pharaoh recalls the story of its discovery in 1952 packed away in a box in the Great Pyramid of Egypt. It took twenty years to put it back together and it’s now displayed in a museum at the Great Pyramid. They buried the ship with the King as they believed it was needed to take him to the next world.
When assembling the ships, the parts are held together with tiny ivory pegs. First David must make strands of ivory so he has ample pegs to hold the pieces together. This is a time consuming task as it takes over an hour to make a ten inch strand of ivory, which is about twice the thickness of a human hair.
The strand is filed in a handmade, wooden groove until it is just the right thickness. This is a tedious task as the strands are so thin that breakage often occurs. Once two pieces are fastened together, the end is sanded so smooth that you have to look closely to see the peg. His grandfather, a quiet and soft spoken character, used this same method for the ivory pegs in his steam engines.
It takes about six months to complete each ship and David tries to do two each year. Right now he is working on #85. Each ship is made of ivory with ebony highlights and abalone pearl in the base.
The Warther family now has four generations of carvers: great-grandfather, grandfather, David and his son. David’s another Warther who does not sell his ivory carvings. They are for viewing only.
But these ships are just a hobby for David. He earns a living by making parts for musical instruments from ivory of the wooly mammoth. Parts for violins and guitars are quite popular and are shipped around the world.
The museum is located on Ohio 39 between Sugarcreek and Walnut Creek. Their winter hours are 10:00 – 4:00 Wednesday through Saturday. Ivory and ebony live together in perfect harmony at David Warther Carvings.