Lightning strike creates artistic opportunity for Bethesda school -- Gazette.Net


His business card reads “Out of the Woodwork, it's my job to amaze you,” and sculptor Jim Calder Jr. is spending two weeks at Norwood School in Bethesda turning a dead Tulip Poplar into a work of art.

“I think it's really great that they managed to take an event like lightning striking the tree and making it into something like this. It will stand for a very long time, for future generations for sure,” said Tomasz Tabernacki, a Norwood seventh-grader.

In addition to creating the sculpture, Calder, who is a generations-removed relative of mobile artist Alexander Calder, is sharing his work and techniques with the school’s students.

Seventh- and eighth-grade art students spent the morning of April 18 outside planning to watch Calder wielding his chain saw to create detail to enhance the head of the hawk.

But rain made the scaffolding slippery and Calker could not do the work.

“You don’t want to be on wet metal with a running chain saw,” Calder said.

Instead, he gathered the students in a circle and used clay to sculpt a fish while answering their questions about his work.

He said he graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in electrical engineering, but never liked it so he went back to woodworking, which he learned from a neighbor while in his teens.

“For me it's a lot of fun. It's a hobby gone wild,” he said.

Tomasz said he hopes to work outside with Calder next week.

“Whatever work he has for me. I like to be able to create things,” Tomasz said.