Fri, April 18, 2014

Major Works by a Miner

Woodcarver Tim Tingle's unique handiwork decorates Montevallo's Orr Park.

One of more than 20 tree carvings by Tim Tingle. (Photograph by Bobbie Young.) (click for larger version)

October 15, 2009

"He's underground right now."

That's the response I got when I called the Jim Walter Resources number 7 mine and asked to speak with Tim Tingle, one of the state's most gifted craftsmen.

A miner by trade (his official title is Fire Boss) and a woodcarver by avocation, Tingle is the artist behind one of the more intriguing sculpture gardens you'll ever see, at Montevallo's Orr Park ( It is there that Tingle has hand carved nearly 40 trees or logs into fascinating human-like figures. (One example graces the cover of this issue.)

(Photograph by Craig Stevens.) (click for larger version)
According to Tingle's wife, Nanette, Tim began work at Orr Park during what all Alabamians recall as Winter Storm '93. "He saw a tree that was down and just started carving that afternoon. I remember it well, because we had no power for about a month and a house with five kids in it. Tim asked the park people in Montevallo if they wanted him to do more, and I guess they liked his work. He's done about 37, I think, since then."

(Photograph by Delos Johnson.) (click for larger version)
It's easy to see Tingle as a kind of blue-collar renaissance man. Somehow, while raising five children and working in the mines, he's found time to write several books—mostly science fiction—carve the trees at Orr Park, carve various other wood art objects, knit rugs, and generally function as an around-the-clock craftsman. "He goes to bed about three o'clock in the morning, usually. He stays busy, that's for sure," his wife boasts.

That's worked out well for the folks in Montevallo, because the wood sculptures at Orr Park constitute an impressive gift to a community by an artist. The work is almost a well-kept secret, right now, but if Tingle continues at his current pace, it won't be for much longer. &

(Photograph by Delos Johnson.) (click for larger version)

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