GREENSBURG – Local woodworking artist John Derheimer recently sold his giant carving of a mother bear and her cub to a local couple for a $1,000 donation to Art on the Square Gallery at 114 E. Washington Street.

"It took me only a couple three weeks to carve it," Derheimer said. "But it wasn't a solid time. I like to piddle with it, too."

Carving for the first time during the early, cold months of 2019, John explained that he uses two chainsaws to complete his carvings: one normal chainsaw and the other with a 2 inch bar and fine teeth.

"You can get right in the bear's mouth and floss his teeth with the small one," he said, laughing.

Beginning with birds, John has previously carved herons and eagles.

"My first bear was kind of a caricature, if you will - very "cartoony," he admitted. "And a nice companion piece I'm working on has a story behind it."

Derheimer relayed his thought processes as he created the carving of the bears.

"Well, there's a reason that mother bear has a baby bear running up its arm," he said. "It's scared of something, obviously, so now I'm working on a skunk!"

Derheimer and his wife, Nancy, are their own "cult of creativity." She works in fabrics, dyeing them, quilting them and creating amazing compositions telling the stories from scenes in her mind.

John, who is just as imaginative, works in wood, sculpting it and putting together pieces that tell stories as well.

John was involved with building the sets for the recent Tree County Player's production of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," so his stories range from life in the wild all the way to life in 16th century France.

"There's just a culture in our house of creativity, and if you don't jump on board that culture, well...," he said good naturedly, then stating his wife is the real talent.

"I've always had a bit of an interest, I like working in wood, so Nancy bought me the two chainsaws for Christmas and that got me going on it," he said.

Derheimer would like to start a fox or coyote next, but because carving is a hobby he prefers not to sell his pieces.

"Someone can suggest something, but I won't do it unless it really inspires me," he said. "I'll pay for my chainsaws, maybe, but this is just for fun."

When asked how he got involved building sets for the Tree County Players he explained, "I just admire that group. I think it's amazing what they can do on a shoe string budget. It's really exciting. They create top-notch performances out of almost nothing, and when that's going on, just sign me up!"

John started his set building career during TCP's triumphant 2018 production of "West Side Story," and was so taken with the process he became involved with the play "Steel Magnolias."

"I just love being part of the storytelling process, and when they start working, creating an entire production from just the pages in a script, well, that's inspiring," he said.

But what inspires him most?

"It's my wife. She's the one who inspires me the most," Derheimer said.


Contact Bill Rethlake at 812-663-3111 ext. 7011 or email