Wendy Lichtensteiger | Wood Carver
The story behind the Whale
I first heard of Wick Ahrens after my siblings and I bought a shop in Duck North Carolina with its inventory, which included several of Wicks plaques. I remember immediately being drawn to them, their style and finish. We soon realized it was Wick’s ‘Whales in Vermont’ sign we passed as kids on our frequent snowboard trips to Ludlow VT. We developed a phone relationship as we continued to sell his whales, but never met in person. After 3 years I left North Carolina for New Jersey, to mentor under my father Lance, himself a bird carver for nearly 40 years. After 5 years of apprenticeship with my Dad, I moved on to familiar Vermont to set up my own shop, and continue my family’s woodcarving tradition. I was a mere 15 minutes from Wicks gallery in Weston. Learning I was a woodcarver, people would always ask if I knew Wick, the whale carver in Weston. I would explain our small connection, but never stopped to meet him, until the day I did. We talked as if we had known each other forever. We talked shop, tools, wood, paints, galleries, nature, politics, human nature and dogs Wick’s work and space inspired me. Wick inspired me. Wick shared with me how it was he had come to carve whales.
In 2012, Wicks health began to suffer beyond the point he could comfortably keep up with his orders. He asked “the only person he could think of” to help him in his shop and fill his orders, me. Having been carving birds for 13 years, Wick appreciated my knowledge of wood and tools and my readiness to step up and help. I started carving with him 2- 3 days a week. Wick became my “northern Dad” and I became “the daughter he never had.” We worked together for 2 years, and he absolutely changed my life. I feel so blessed to have been able to spend shop time with him and learn from a master.
In 2014, when Wick’s health forced him to retire to the Gill Home in Ludlow VT he asked me if I would be interested in taking over his business and continue carving whales. It didn’t take me long to answer. I was honored. I adopted his dog, bought his business, and continue in his tradition. I work on the bench Clark passed on to Wick and it inspires me to grow without forgetting where I came from. I am humbled to be a part of such a rich carving history. Sadly, Wick left us on March 11, 2016. There is a piece of him in everything I make, and I treasure every second I spent with him. We love you Wickie!