Wayne Robbins calls his amazing woodcarvings “Celebrating Creatures of the Sea.” And that he does, magnificently.
Linda and I stopped by Wayne’s shop in Bath last week and were captivated by his stories and his work. Wayne taught biology for 33 years in Bath before moving on to the local college for 12 years, but he developed an early interest in carving, beginning as a boy scout, making lobster plugs. He also lobstered until he was a senior in college. He’s led a lot of whale-watching trips and for a long time served as a marine mammal rescuer. No wonder he loves to carve whales!
Wayne uses a wide variety of wood including butter nut for his larger whales. His shore birds – especially puffins – and his sea creatures are – well, amazing. I really don’t have enough adjectives to describe them. But I will include a few photos for you.
We were surprised when we stepped up to the large window in Wayne’s shop, looking out over a field and forest, and noticed a bunch of bird feeders. He turns out to be an avid birder, as are we. He keeps a daily check list of birds there on the shelf next to the window and it’s impressive.
But it was when I spotted his chair that I knew Wayne is a real make-do Mainer. He got the metal chair at the dump and added wheels that he took off an old bed the local hospital discarded at the dump. He’s had the chair for 40 years, and it looks it!
As we visited with Wayne and looked over his shop, so many things reminded me of my Dad, who took up carving and painting after he retired. Even during his last 6 months in the Hospice Unit at Togus, Dad continued to paint at a table that the staff set up for him in a corner of his room. Dad was well known for his carved loons and brook trout. And Dad was a make-do Mainer too, often going to the dump empty and coming home with a full load.
We were particularly impressed when Wayne told us he volunteers one day a week over at the Maine Maritime Museum, entertaining kids. He also teaches carving to individuals and classes. Our host at the Inn at Bath, Elizabeth Knowlton, is taking a class now, learning how to carve birds, and we owe Elizabeth a big thank you for directing us up the street from her inn to Wayne’s home and shop.
Starting on March 9, Wayne will offer a six-week course, scheduled every Wednesday from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at his workshop at 1302 High Street in Bath. It’s a real bargain at $90, and is designed for both beginning and intermediate carvers. You can get more information at his website, www.waynerobbins.com. Or just give him a call at 207-607-3565.
You’ll find Wayne’s work at several galleries along the coast, but you really should just stop by his place, where he reserves one room in his house for carvings that are available for sale, starting at the incredibly reasonable price of $35.