April 6 2011 12:00 AM

A young woodcarver makes his mark


For some people, woodcarving is an old-fashioned craft. But for Alec LaCasse, it’s an artform that enriches his life.

LaCasse, a 16-year-old from Leonard, loved painting and drawing since childhood. But it wasn’t until three years ago when a teacher offered him a beginner’s woodcarving kit, that he found his true calling.

“I remember getting the kit and sitting on the front porch to whittle a boot presented in a booklet,” LaCasse said.

“Looking back, that must have been the first time I had ever sat in one spot without budging for three-and-a-half hours of my own will.”

Woodcarving requires practice and perseverance. “When you carve, there is a stage of art called ‘ugly stage’ where it doesn’t look like exactly what you want right away and most people give it up,” LaCasse said. “It’s difficult at first, but you have to focus and keep imagining the finished product.”

The largely self-taught LaCasse has become well known in Michigan woodcarving competitions. His works “The Old Cheyenne” and “Christ with Crown of Thorns” won the first place and the best of show, respectively, at the Frankenmuth Woodcarving Show.

On Saturday, LaCasse will be the special guest at the Greater Lansing Wood Carvers’ 18th Annual Wood Show, which brings together more than 60 carvers from around the state. Show coordinator Teresa Erskine said they invited LaCasse as a special guest because he fits this year’s theme of “all-stars.”

But LaCasse would rather regard himself a woodcarving artist. “If you’re working with your heart, if you put your mind, labor and heart into it, you are truly an artist,” he said.

Greater Lansing Wood Show

10 a.m.- 4 p.m. Saturday, April 9 Haslett High School, 5450 Marsh Road, Haslett $3 adults; free for children 16 and under (517) 321-6630 www.glwoodcarvers.com (517) 483-1488