Wood Sculptor Sam Soet Finds His Niche In Wildlife Art

Impala made from cherry wood

Sculptor Sam Soet had a degree in fine arts from Ball State University under his belt along with an apprenticeship in wood sculpture with master sculptor Leslie Scruggs when he stumbled upon his own unique style. His nephew had just scored his first deer, and to memorialize the event, his father asked Soet to make a unique display for the bullet casing that they’d had engraved. He carved a doe skull from wood to house the casing and serve as a trophy for the up-and-coming hunter.

“That was when I really made the connection that this could work as an artform,” he says, “and I ran with it.”

From his studio tucked in the woods in Farwell, Michigan he has since created hundreds of what he calls “animalia” sculptures based on the skull/horn theme made from different wood varieties that he harvests, ages, and dries himself. He uses traditional hand tool techniques for subtractive sculpture, such as hammer and gouge and rasping. His natural aging process distinguishes each sculpture, evident in the variety of colors, swirls and naturally occurring designs that Soet enhances through his carving and treatments.

Dall sheep made from claro and walnut burl

When a passion for hunting and art come together, it can be a beautiful thing, and in this case, where hand-carved wood plays front and center, nature and the hunt are both honored. “I really like the idea that I can combine my wood working with my hunting lifestyle,” he says.–Corinne Garcia


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