New Albany Classic to Feature Carousel Works' Intricate Wooden Horses

Tristan Eden
Carousel Works wooden horse

Inspired by the large, wooden "animal friends" that were hand-carved for Nationwide Children's Hospital by Carousel Works-and in honor of the Chinese Year of the Horse-New Albany Classic hosts Leslie and Abigail Wexner asked the Mansfield company to bring 10 of their carousel horses to the Sept. 21 event. "The whole process (for each), from start to finish, takes about five weeks," says Kate Blakley, director of marketing for Carousel Works. Here's how they do it.

1. The first step is to glue together 40 to 80 2-inch basswood boards in the general shape of the desired figure. The body, legs, tail and head are built separately, and the body piece is hollow. The glued pieces are then clamped to dry overnight.

2. The figure blocks are "roughed out" by a pantograph machine, which shapes each piece and "saves a ton of carving time and removes excess wood from the blocks," Blakley says.

3. Master carvers determine the design and draw it directly onto the figure. They attach the head to the body first, then the legs and tail.

4. The carvers hand-carve all the "trappings"-straps, bows, saddles-into the figure. This can take up to three weeks.

5. The figure is sanded with a machine and by hand before the more detailed carvings are added.

6. It is primed, then sanded again, then primed two or three more times.

7. The figure is hand-painted. Depending on the intricacy of the design, this takes up to a week.

8. Finally, it gets about four layers of clear-coat protectant.