Continuing the tradition

Freshman explores new hobby taught by grandfather

Freshman Sam Shelburn was gifted a pocket knife from his grandfather at 11 years old. He started off with cutting the bark off of a stick and is now far more advanced in skills, continuing the hobby he loves.

“To me, life is just about doing stuff,” Shelburn said. “You find out what makes you happy and what doesn’t, and right now, this is what makes me happy.”

Shelburn has come a long way in the past few years of wood carving, and he will continue to stick with the recreation he loves.

He would build anything with his grandfather, a sheet metal working handyman, who has been instrumental in his progress. Three years ago, Shelburn’s grandfather gave him a pocket knife, and he originally used it as an outlet for stress.

“I have really bad anxiety,” Shelburn said. “I needed something to relax and that was it.”

He grew from taking bark off of sticks to whittling wood and continued to practice carving until improvements were significant.

The reactions from his loved ones and inspirations were pleasant. They were all excited. His grandfather, proud of his mentee, his mother, happy to see him creating something hands-on, and his father, elated to do this with his son.

The family has given him space in their house’s garage to make room for a shop. Shelburn still carves and learns new things with his grandfather, and his father has gone to contact a local woodworker, Herman Bueno, for private lessons with him over a variety of techniques.

“It is awesome for a person to have an interest and then pursue it because they honestly like it,” Joe Shelburn, Shelburn’s father, said. “Sam found his way into carving on his own. It was something he started and grew into on his own and was pretty much driven by himself.”

Now 14 years old, Shelburn’s skills have been enhanced.

He has explored projects with better types of wood, tools and methods.

“Once Sam found out that there is a whole world of carving out there,” Joe said. “His interest progressed even more.”

This led him to explore the business end of his hobby more. Shelburn has been a part of craft fairs, craft shops, art sales, pop-up shops, and has even had the opportunity to make profit off of them in stores.

The first store was Tuggle’s Gifts and Goods in Fountain Square where he worked and sold his creations for 6 months. The second was the Y Shop in Beech Grove where he was offered a job, and when fellow employees heard of his wood carving, they told him to sell it there.

Shelburn did just that. He carves little animals, spoons and bowls and while doing so, makes sure no wood scrap goes to waste by making smaller creations from them.

He also makes cutting boards, charcuterie boards and wooden boxes for his mother. She enjoys watching him improve.

“I think his wood carving has helped him gain self confidence,” Sarah Shelburn, the mother, said. “Through opportunities to sell his creations (he) has acquired some people skills that he may not have otherwise developed at his age.”

“It really is just about creating something,” Shelburn said.

Besides selling those pieces in stores, he also accepts commissions, whether one reaches out in person or through his platform, recent ones being furniture.

“I’ve started to get into furniture making,” Shelburn said. “It just seemed like something that really interested me.”

Shelburn enjoys just creating something, and his grandfather has been there for him. He has helped it continue to be a stress relieving and fun activity for Shelburn.

“If there’s anything you want to do, do it,” Shelburn said. “Explore hobbies and try everything, that’s why you have a life. It’s to try new things, find what you like, and stick to it.”