a retired long-haul truck drive, Willard Mathis came to woodcarving
relatively late in life. In 1992, when he became bored while hunting
from a deer stand, he broke off a dead tree limb and carved out a little
fish, which he later presented to his wife. She gave him some carving
knives and tools for Christmas and he was off and running!
has a small shop behind his garage where he works on his carvings. He
states, “When I was young, I used to love to draw and I’ve even done a
little painting. After I started woodcarving, I went to the University
of Louisville and took sculpting and painting classes for almost three
starts his creations by sketching a design on a block of wood,
sometimes researching the design in the library. Basswood is his
favorite carving wood because of its close grain, but he also uses
cherry, cedar, apple and sourwood. Mathis carves bears, horses, wild
animals, dogs and also does commissioned work. His carvings are
sometimes decorated with oil paints or finished naturally. A large
number of his carvings end up on walking staffs and canes. Mathis is a
juried member of the Kentucky Guild of Artists and Craftsmen and the
Kentucky Craft Marketing Program.
Works by Willard C. Mathis can be found at the Kentucky Folk Art Center, Morehead, KY; the Gourd Patch Gallery, Cynthiana, KY; The DamselFly Gallery, Midway, KY; and at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.