Russ Jacobsohn's "Rocking Horse" is our featured artwork for July 2009.
Russ Jacobsohn is a master craftsman, woodworker and functional artist known for his handcrafted animal rockers. Originally from Wilmington, Delaware, he relocated to the Upper Cumberland in 1979 and since that time, he hasn’t given any serious thought to living anywhere else.
“When I first moved here I was happy just to have perfect weather and live in the forest. Then I learned that there were hundreds of talented people in the area and an amazing support group for an artistic lifestyle. I was fortunate enough to find myself in a community with exceptional public television, public radio, symphony and support for the arts.”
Russ loves the ready availability of great wood in Tennessee. He crafts each of his pieces from hand using solid hardwoods like cherry, oak, walnut, maple, mahogany and cedar.
“I am 62 and I started working with wood in my 20s. I am mostly self-taught but I have had the good luck to get help along the way from more experienced woodworkers and artists in related fields.”
In 1982, Russ carved his first rocking horse and he has been hooked ever since. His rocking critters have been featured on TV programs like “Tennessee Crossroads” and “Modern Masters.” He will carve any animal upon request. His rocking menagerie includes horses, whales, chickens, rabbits, turtles, alligators, elephants, moose, giraffes, pigs, mules and frogs, just to name a few. Currently he has a commission for rocking dragons.
“My biggest customers are grandparents who want their gift to their grandchildren to be something really special that will last for many generations. No two rockers that I ever do are the same. Sometimes the wood inspires me to go in one direction or another. Sometimes I find a piece of wood that suggests what I need to do with it. Part of the joy is having complete freedom of creativity every day.”
Russ considers himself lucky to be here and living his dream. His motivation for creating his rocking beasties may be found in an artist’s statement he wrote for the Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands in 2008.
“I enjoy sharing my love of animals through my rocking critters, knowing that because I make them with the best materials and craftsmanship, that they will last for generations. I know this to be true already because after 25 years, I am beginning to meet the young children who are now riding the horse their parents rode. All of us would like to think we have made some kind of difference in this world. I would like to believe that my ever growing herd of rocking animals brought a little more joy into the lives of the children who rode them.”
You can find out more about the work of Russ Jacobsohn at his website.
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