"I am a quiet, jovial person and I was raised in a family of carvers. I learned my skills from my father and grandfather who were both master woodcarvers."
"I am Gelson Avorwlanu and I was born in Accra. I am a quiet, jovial person and I was raised in a family of carvers. I learned my skills from my father and grandfather who were both master woodcarvers. They worked at home so, when I was out of school and during weekends and vacations, I stayed close to them to develop my skills.
"My parents had been observing us, looking for an interest in carving so they could pass on their knowledge. After finishing junior high school in 1997, I focused on carving and have done so ever since.
"It was not easy back then because machines were not available and everything was done by hand. I remember having to cut a big log into smaller pieces by hand. By the time I finished, I didn't have any energy left.
"It took a long time to carve the items and I had to sell them from door to door. This made it very difficult. But with the introduction of electric saws, it is now easy to a the log into the sizes required, which frees up more more time to design and carve. I can now create more designs than in the past.
"I use sese, ebony, rosewood, mahogany and cow bone for my work. I like to carve animals because I love them and often watch documentaries about animals. I like to capture some of their movement and translate them onto the wood. It feels good when I'm able to capture a scene. The challenging part is capturing the very fine details, which I can't sometimes achieve because I don't have the tools to do it.
"So far, I've taught four people how to carve and they are doing very well. It's a joy to teach or impart a skill to someone else. My dream is to one day open a big workshop to train more people."
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