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Wood carver designing 28-piece chess set
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Jim Quilici, of Manteca, carves a chess piece – an Indian head – for a set themed after the Old West’s cowboys and Indians. Two finished chess piece cowboy busts are seen in the foreground. Also on his carving table is a creation entitled “Baseball 1906” showing a pitcher winding up and a crouching umpire in the heat of a game. It drew a first place recently in the advanced category of the Tri-Valley Woodcarvers Show in Pleasanton October 24-25. - photo by GLENN KAHL

Wood carving from basswood blocks is a whittling art in action every Monday at the Manteca Senior Center Mondays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m.

The carvers present their work at four shows a year, according to coordinator of the Manteca Woodcarvers Club, Beatrice Machado – with an average of 80 entries.

Jim Quilici had his “Baseball 1906” on display at his carving table last Monday that featured a somewhat comical pitcher in full windup with his knee held high and his tongue sticking out of his mouth.  Behind the pitcher, and eyeballing the plate, was the umpire with a top hat and cigar squeezed tightly between his lips.

Quilici took a first place in the advanced division of the recent Tri-Valley Woodcarvers competition with his baseball carving.    Currently he is working on a 28-piece chess set of the Old West with intricate detail of cowboys and Indians that he will present to family members when it’s complete.  After the chess set is finished, he will have carved some 200 pieces in all.

Quilici, 71, is retired from a supervisory position with Granite Construction Company – builder of roads, tunnels, airports and other infrastructure.  He said he took up carving only after his retirement.

Machado said the wood carving shows usually draw upwards of 80 entries.  She also enters the advanced categories of competition.  Her necklaces are carved from a variety of mediums: olivewood from Bethlehem in the Holy Land, a 400-year-old oak tree in Livermore and black and white ebony from Africa.  She also has a series of pens on display with wooden barrels.

There are usually a half dozen carvers working at their craft each Monday morning at the Manteca Senior Center.

For anyone seeking more information on the craft of wood carving there is a woodcarving illustrated message board on line that runs the gamut from a beginner’s guide to chain saw carving – a service of the Woodcarving illustrated magazine – a how-to magazine for carvers.  Online carving classes are also available.

The organization’s address is