From the Archives, February 24, 2019

Ernie Ragsdale Carvings

Usually when someone mentions the name “Ernie Ragsdale,” we think of the Stahlman Program Director. This is reasonable. Ragsdale was Program Director at Stahlman from (basically) 1980 to 1989. He trained a generation of Stahlman staff members.

But as any one of those staff members will tell you, Ragsdale was more than a Program Director. He was a mentor, he was a teacher, he was a vet, he was a role model. He was a bit of a prankster. He was a carver. When we think of great Handicraft folks, men skilled in carving, we might think of Floyd “Q-ball” Pearce or Claus “Dutch” Mann, and rightly so. Often overlooked is Ernie Ragsdale.

Ragsdale was constantly carving and whittling. Ask anyone who knew him and this will eventually come up. Ragsdale whittled as if it was a nervous habit; he needed something to do with his hands. He often started at the start of the summer on items for his staff, such as neckchief slides or the like.

He often carved more personal items as well. Featured here are two such gifts. One to Jim Barr and one to Russell Parham. The Jim Barr gift was, well, a “horse’s ass.” The gift to Parham was a set of Praying Hands. Both demonstrate an incredible level of skill and artistry, suggesting Ragdale could have been a great Handicraft director… if he weren’t already such a good Program Director.

Ragsdale carving

Ernie Ragsdale’s “A Horse’s Ass”

Praying Hands

Ernie Ragsdale’s Praying Hands

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