Wood Carving ShopThere’s a BIG “WHITTLE” DIFFERENCE between STEPHEN KELLEY, that would be me, and nearly all other product designers.  And it all begins in Pop’s Shop.

POP’S SHOP is a small and single-artist studio in a garage that doubles and smells like a lawn mower.   It’s not a monolithic company that pumps out designs by the hundreds that all look alike and can be found in thousands of homes. I’m the only designer, carver, painter and story-teller.  I use Dad’s, Grandpa’s and Uncle Bob’s old tools.  And you’re welcome to visit almost anytime, but please call first.

EARLY FIRST WEEKENDS in POP’S SHOP are special design times at our mountaintop retreat for invited EARLY FIRST buyers, based on availability.  We’ll design a StoryCarving, share the credit, tell stories, and enjoy nightly bonfires with a Smoky Mountain view, all on my dime and with custom rustic cabin lodging, too.

EARLY FIRSTS are the first 100 of every new StoryCarving  at a pre-production prices and with a basket full of EARLY FIRST BENEFITS.  Similar to a KICKSTARTER patron,  Early First buyers are honored sponsors of every design and I hope you are one, too.  EARLY FIRST payments are held in a secure SQUARE merchant account until 1oo of any Early First design are sold, at which time payments transfer to Stephen Kelley, LLC, the Equal Value Coupon benefits are issued, and manufacturing begins.

EARLY FIRST BENEFITS include an EQUAL VALUE COUPON for an “available now” StoryCarvings or equal or greater value, an EARLY FIRST EDITION numbered from 1 to 100, a 10% EARLY FIRST DISCOUNT on all future Stephen Kelley purchases, an EARLY FIRST NOTICE on all future Early Firsts and for your number too, if possible,  an EARLY FIRST WEEKEND invitation, a GOOD CHIP of wood from the original, and a CHANCE TO WIN a yearly, one-of-a-kind StoryCarving original.  

STORYCARVINGSare so named for a good and telling reason.  They “tell well” the good stories that inspired them, some from my own storytelling memories and many offered by folks like yourself.  You can buy a figurine anywhere – but you can only buy a StoryCarving on StephenKelley.com or through select online retailers.

IN GOOD COMPANY.StoryCarvings include CHRISTMAS SCENES, likely the world’s first complete and correct telling of the Story; THE GOOD WOODLEYS, “A Little Line of Good Standing People;” STILT FIGURES, “A Little Line of footed, feathered and finned friends;” and WHO KNOWS what else.

MANY A PART.  Figurines are most often a one-part design.  On rare occasions, they might have two or three separate parts.  StoryCarvings rarely have fewer than 20 individual parts, including tiny mittens and boots, hats and caps, and hand-tied bonnet and belt ribbons, each handcrafted, painted and assembled.

REAL FACETS are carved into every StoryCarving, while most artists sculpt them into their clay.  If they mistake is made, a bit of clay is added.   If I make a mistake, to the trash it goes and after I apply the bandaid.  Although it matters little to StoryCarving you buy, you know that my facets were the real McCoy. 

STEELED TOGETHER  StoryCarving arms and legs are wired together for three reasons.   It allows me to adjust the poses and make last minute adjustments.  It creates a fresh and unheard-of style.   It reminds us we are steeled by God to stand strong against everything the world might throw against us.

VINTAGE INSPIRATION.  I’m a vintage kind of guy but please don’t call me old.  You’ll find hints of vintage in many StoryCarvings.  The wire I use to “steel” the originally Good Woodley and Stilt Figures together comes from a neighboring fence erected by President Woodrow Wilson and a member of the George Eastman family, of Kodak fame.  Also frequently and originally used are vintage croquet balls and mallets, children’s building blocks, antique furniture tacks and once an antique door stop.  

GOOD STANDINGS.   Every StoryCarving is figuratively in “good standing”, from a Standing Platform often inspired by vintage croquet balls, mallets and other unique items to an Under Base that often support and elevate them, something I believe we should all aspire to.

IN THE BOX. Open a typical gift box and you’ll find the item you purchased.  Open a StoryCarving box and you find more than you bargained for, including a STORYCARD that tells the story behind the carving, and a THANK YOU from Chevin and I.

GOOD CHIPS are chips of wood saved from every StoryCarving.  If you send a photograph to me of your StoryCarving in your or a loved one’s hands and the story behind your selection, I’ll send a GOOD CHIP to you, while supplies last.  But fear not; it took 936 chips just to whittle the wall in the Christmas Scene, An Unexpected Visit.

MAKING TIME.  I don’t start with a sketch or a clay model.  I simply take a block of wood and whittle the idea that’s in my head and heart.  I don’t know where to start and never know when to finish.  I leave that up to God.  It takes a day or two to carve and paint each character plus a day or two for separate components and the base.  Most StoryCarvings are finished in 3 days and rarely no more than 5.   Thirty days later I have an Artist’s Proof and ready to post as the next EARLY FIRST EDITION.

EARLY TO MAKE & EARLY TO BUY.  Since I try to create 3 to 5 new StoryCarvings every four months, new EARLY FIRSTS are introduced on that same schedule.  However, I also post well in advance what I’m creating, including videos and photographs.  This gives EARLY FIRST buyers the opportunity to order throughout the whittle time.  It also provides an opportunity to visit the shop or spend the weekend (by appointment), watch the next StoryCarving come to life and participate in the design process.  This also means that I introduce new designs at least three times yearly, which is often three times more often than many larger designer/distributors.

SMALL BATCH. StoryCarvings are not made by the thousands.   Small batches allows me to introduce new designs throughout the year and often one based on an old family photograph you provided.

BREAKING MOLDS.  StoryCarvings are currently limited to 2,500 units per design, except for Christmas Scenes and one or two other whittles.  When the last one is sold, I break the mold.   When one lands in your hands, you are not one of twenty thousand.