If you have access to scrap wood, create wooden sculptures with the different shapes of wood. Craft stores often have dowel rods, wooden wheels, and geometrical wooden shapes that can be used. You can also use objects from around the house. Use wood glue, drill guns, and screws to attach pieces together in interesting ways. Keep in mind that certain joints can create movable parts on your sculpture.
Although he is best known for his brightly painted birds, Louisville folk artist Marvin Finn has also done a series of works of construction machines—cranes, shovels, and bulldozers. These pieces were inspired by the artist’s work as a laborer in the Louisville dockyards. Crane is large and complex, with many interesting surprises in store for the viewer who looks closely.
About the Artist
Marvin Finn was born in 1917 near Clio, Alabama. He grew up on a farm and learned to whittle from his father. “There were ten boys and two girls in my family, and most of them were older than I was, so I didn’t have toys except when I made them,” he says.
“Maybe the good Lord plants these things in my mind. When I leave here and meet the good Lord, I ain’t never going to quit making toys. That’s what my mind tells me. That’s heaven to me—making toys—and I look forward to it all the time.”
Finn arrived in Louisville after World War II. After he married in 1952, he made toys for the enjoyment of his five children. His wife, Helen Breckinridge, helped him, using an electric saw to cut out the toy shapes that he had drawn. After his wife died in 1966, Finn kept making toys to help him through his grief. “Sometimes I’d wake up at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. I’d get up then, every morning, with something new in my mind,” he recalls. “I get up with an idea, and I’ve already got a head start.”
Finn’s work is highly regarded by collectors of toys and collectors of contemporary folk art around the world. “I think my work is pretty good as far as I’m concerned,” Finn says. “I never did get to finish school, but I’m pretty sharp with my imagination. I just do what my mind tells me to do. Maybe the good Lord plants these things in my mind. When I leave here and meet the good Lord, I ain’t never going to quit making toys. That’s what my mind tells me. That’s heaven to me—making toys—and I look forward to it all the time.”