For the Love of Little Things: 'Carving Kept Us Together'

Last Updated:May 03, 2024
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For the Love of Little Things: 'Carving Kept Us Together' For the Love of Little Things: 'Carving Kept Us Together'
Heart & Soul

There’s a big story behind Sharry Wheaton’s love of little things.

For 50 years now, she’s carved miniature figures at Silver Dollar City with itty bitty details you may have to squint to see. They are treasures with tiny faces with even tinier features—some pieces less than half-an-inch big.

Woodcarving was a hobby not even on Sharry’s radar while growing up in the Belgium Congo of Africa with parents who were missionaries. When Congo secured its independence in 1960, Sharry’s family packed up and moved to America. She says the move jolted her from her comfort zone and turned her world upside down.

Sharry Wheaton Sharry Wheaton

“What a shock that was,” she smiles. “I really had a hard time adjusting over here because I was so use to primitive life. I was a teenager plopped into the middle of America, which felt like a foreign land at first.”

Sharry says just as her family’s new plans in the U.S. began to align, so did the stars.

“That first week in America is when I met my sweetheart Jerry,” she gushes. “We started talking and never looked back. God is so good.”

The young lovers would eventually marry and land in Harrison, AR. They were excited to learn about free classes offered at the community college there.

“One of them was a woodcarving class,” she smiles. “Jerry really wanted to take the course but wanted me to go with him. I didn’t really care to learn so I took a magazine to read while he whittled.”

The two teachers didn’t care much for that.

“They came over and took my magazine,” she laughs. “They put a knife in one of my hands and a block of wood in the other. When I first put that knife to the block and saw the wood peel away, I was hooked! What a blessing that those teachers took my book!”

Sharry and Jerry kept carving as the years went by and chiseled out their path to Silver Dollar City, where they spent decades as guest woodcarvers.

“Oh, we had the most joyous years creating together. Carving really kept us connected—kept us together,” she says with a pause. “It’s hard to even remember how many folks we’ve met here at The City through the years.”

Sharry’s little things are displayed on the counter as she carves. There are entire scenes chiseled into thimbles and faces of mountain folk etched into pencils. All of them so detailed. All of them so precious.

Sharry chuckles as she holds in her hand one of her tiniest pieces.

“If you ever see someone picking their teeth, make sure they’re not chewing on Santa,” she giggles as she opens her hand to reveal Santa carved on the toothpick. “These were so fun to make!”

Santa Toothpick Santa Toothpick
Boot Boot

Her childlike laughter turns somber as she talks about her pending 82nd birthday and the loss of her Jerry a decade ago.

“He’s been gone more than ten years but coming here to carve where we did together brings him back to me,” she says. “I’m going to keep making the weekly trip from Harrison as long as I can to keep my skills and my mind sharp!”

Now, more than ever, she’s grateful she kept a memory book to preserve snapshots of her favorite work and her favorite people from her five decades at The City.

“I’m moving around a little slower these days and am starting to have a hard time with little details. That picture book allows me to look back on all of these wonderful years. How wonderful they’ve all been.”

Pencils Pencils
Thimbals Thimbals
Picture of Brandei Clifton

Meet Brandei Clifton

As Public Relations Manager for the Silver Dollar City Company, she is eager to tap into her journalism background to hunt down “heart tugs” to write about—those stories that celebrate…

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