Artist carves wooden eagle for Manley

Bill Reynolds, a Townsend artist, came to Manley Elementary School this spring and carved this statue, which sits in the hallway of the school.

Bill Reynolds, an East Tennessee artist out of Townsend, had planned a treat earlier this spring when he showed up to Manley Elementary School.

He brought with him a piece of wood and a saw and he started carving.

What he sculpted was a bald eagle that now sits in the school. The program was something he had never done before.

Reynolds has been carving art out of wood for the past 35 years, he said.

Every summer, he’d go to the Clinch River to camp with family and he had some uncles who’d come with blocks of wood.

“They’d just sit around and whittle,” he said.

As a 12-year-old, he caught the bug and thought it would be something he’d enjoy.

“I got a pocket knife and started doing it myself,” he said.

He’s now a full-time sculptor, or as he says, “What do they call it? Starving artist.”

He displays his sculptures at Smoky Mountain art gallery in Gatlinburg and his own gallery, in Townsend, Mountain Creations. Reynolds is a self-taught artist who has made his living combining realistic and stylistic art.

He’s lived in Morristown before and his reason for coming to Manley Elementary was because of a family connection. His niece, Abby Dalton, teaches first grade at the school.

Reynolds said it was a pleasure to carve the eagle at the school. He said classes would come out and watch him while he worked. Some classes came back for a second trip to see his progress.

“It lasted a couple of hours,” he said.

He said he liked the experience of letting the children see his work in progress. He said he hopes maybe more schools will ask him to come do a demonstration.

As far as Manley Elementary?

They seemed to have enjoyed it, he said.

“I think they want me back next year to do it again,” he said.