Have you seen our wonderful array of hand-carved walking sticks? They’re the work of local Ferrum-based craftsman Kerry Wood. He’s been making his “Walkin’ Stiks” for 40 years. His passion for the craft was originally borne out of necessity. While serving with the U.S. Army’s famed 82nd Airborne Division, he broke his foot while parachuting down to a 100-mile march. He fashioned a makeshift walking stick out of a Walnut tree branch to get him through the journey. At night, he would carve designs into the stick. It didn’t take long for his friends and compatriots to start asking for custom walking sticks of their own, and Kerry’s been carving Walkin’ Stiks ever since.
Most of Kerry’s walking sticks feature an array of intricate designs including animals, leaves, faces, “The Crooked Road” iconography, musical symbols, and abstract shapes. His favorite designs to carve are faces he’s seen on motorcycle trips to Canada, the Rockies, Texas, and Indian reservations out West.
“Often the stick just tells me what to carve and where,” he says.
While he carves from many types of wood, his favorite is Tulip poplar. “The wood is soft but gets hard and strong after staining,” he says. “My little farm in Ferrum has lots of tulip poplar growing on it.”
Kerry only cuts trees growing in crowded areas on his farm, where they won’t get enough sunlight to grow and prosper to their full potential. He estimates that he carves around 100 to 150 sticks every year, depending on how cold the winter is.
“My dogs and I sit by the stove in my man cave whittling a lot if it’s too cold to get outside,” he says.
Visit the Floyd Country Store to see Kerry Wood’s incredible Walkin’ Stiks for yourself! You can also contact him to purchase or order a Walkin’ Stik at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And check out this documentary local film studio Forged Films made about Kerry Wood earlier this year.