, Port Arthur, Texas

Top Stories

July 29, 2013

Messer devoted to art of whittling

GROVES — What began as a way for Gene Messer to pass time has turned into a passion to teach others the dying art of whittling.

Through his YouTube Channel Messer has taught countless people around the world how to carve wood and even soap, transforming the items into masterpieces. His 1,576 videos have been viewed many times; the most viewed being on the topics of “whittling a face” and “carving the five minute wizard” which have upwards of 51,000 views.

An injury — which causes numbness and pain in his arm — has left Messer partly disabled and unable to carve wood. Carving soap is easier for him but for now he can no longer carve.

“It’s a dying art. We, as older carvers, want to wish it’s not dying,” Messer said.

The Groves man is featured in the most recent edition of Whittling, which is a special issue of Woodcarving Illustrated magazine dedicated to the art and hobby of woodcarving and design. The issue will be on newsstands now through Sept. 9.

His popular videos which began more than five years ago show viewers step-by-step instructions, something he is proud to pass along.

“I stopped the videos a while back,” he said of the last video posted three months ago. “I thank the Lord for this (videos) now that I’m not able to do them anymore. What I wanted is to leave something behind so this is not a dying art. I don’t know how I ended up with 1,576 videos.”

Standing in his garage in Groves, Messer pointed out a display of some of his work. Rows of hobos and hillbilly’s and other characters, created from bass wood, were lined up as well as a section of his newer work created from soap. The soap ones were coated with an acrylic thus giving the pieces of art a gleam.

Messer began his love of wood carving in the early 1980’s when his then wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and began to undergo treatments at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

“I was about to go crazy,” he said. “I saw some carved figures and picked up some books. They didn’t have videos back then,” he said.

After his wife died in 1991 Messer was left with a small son to raise alone; he kept up the hobby. Through the years he noticed that people were fascinated watching him carve wood and around 2007 or 2008 bought a camera and learned to use a computer.

“I did my first video and thought ‘this is it.’ Then I started getting responses and people began wanting to learn how to carve wood,” he said.

Messer uses the Scandinavian flat-plane style of wood carving in which there is very little rounding and tool marks are left on the figure.

“I have got messages from people all over the world; England, Russia, Sweden,” he said.

Messer’s deep faith in God is keeping him strong through his period of disability and nerve damage and although he cannot carve wood anymore he is comforted by the fact the YouTube videos exist to keep the dying at alive.

“Maybe I’ll carve with my left hand one day,” he said with a smile.


Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

For more information: (Messer’s blog)

YouTube (search Gene Messer), 1-800-457-9112

Text Only
Top Stories
  • FireHFONLINE.jpg Hamshire-Fannett Elem badly burned

    With smoke still hanging in the air and water blasting hot spots in the smoldering ruins of Hamshire-Fannett Elementary School, the administration and parents of hundreds students are left wondering what’s next.

    March 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • 86th Academy Awards -_Edge.jpg ’12 Years a Slave’ rises up at Academy Awards

    Perhaps atoning for past sins, Hollywood named the brutal, unshrinking historical drama “12 Years a Slave” best picture at the 86th annual Academy Awards.
    Steve McQueen’s slavery odyssey, based on Solomon Northup’s 1853 memoir, has been hailed as a landmark corrective to the movie industry’s virtual blindness to slavery, instead creating whiter tales like 1940 best-picture winner “Gone With the Wind.” “12 Years a Slave” is the first best-picture winner directed by a black filmmaker.

    March 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Obit Shirley Temple_Edge.jpg Shirley Temple, iconic child star, dies at 85

    Shirley Temple, the dimpled, curly-haired child star who sang, danced, sobbed and grinned her way into the hearts of Depression-era moviegoers, has died, according to publicist Cheryl Kagan. She was 85.

    February 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Winter.jpg Freezing rain, sleet Thursday into Friday

    Wicked winter weather is heading to Southeast Texas Thursday night into Friday.
    An arctic cold front will be passing through bringing along with it much colder and windier conditions, according to a National Weather Service press release.

    January 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Oscar Nominations_Cowl.jpg ‘Hustle,’ ’Gravity’ lead Oscar nominations

    The Academy Awards appear to be the three-horse race many expected it would be, with “Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” all receiving a heap of nominations. All were among the nine films nominated for best picture. The other nominees are “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Philomena.”

    January 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Wendy Davis.jpg Wendy Davis tours Port of Beaumont

    State Sen. Wendy Davis burst onto the national political stage in June, when she spent 11 hours filibustering in an attempt to block Senate Bill 5, a contentious piece of legislation that banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy and required abortion clinics to meet the same standards as an ambulatory surgical center. Although the bill passed the next month during a special session called by Gov. Rick Perry, Davis breathed new life into a Texas Democratic Party that last saw an official elected to statewide office in 1994.

    November 20, 2013 1 Photo

  • Jack-knife trailer.jpg Jack-knifed trailer snarls traffic, closes Rainbow Bridge

    October 31, 2013 1 Photo

  • fall.jpg UPDATED — Where to go: Fall Fests, Trunk R Treats and Pumpkin Patches

    If you're looking for a place to bring the kids trick or treating, or maybe looking for a great patch to grab a pumpkin here is a list of events planned around the area.

    October 28, 2013 1 Photo

  • IMG_9345.jpg Overturned 18-wheeler shuts down portion of Hwy 73

    The portion of Highway 73 traveling eastbound at U.S. Highway 69 will be blocked for two to three hours due to an overturned 18-wheeler. Motorists should take an alternate route to avoid the area.
    The Port Arthur Police Department is on scene and investigating the accident. No further details are known at this time.

    September 20, 2013 1 Photo

  • AwaitingArrival.jpg Streets lined to pay respects to Maddox

    Motorcyclists, Coast Guard and members of the Hamshire-Fannett Fire Department along with the public are gathered at Jack Brooks Regional Airport to pay tribute to fallen soldier Anthony Maddox.

    August 2, 2013 2 Photos

Sports Tweets