I enjoy carousels enough that I’ve written a story about them (“The Last Horse,” which appeared in the September 2012 of Aoife’s Kiss), and I like to visit historical ones when I get the chance. Yesterday, I visited the Historic Carousel and Museum in Albany, Oregon. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother mentioning that here, but what makes this carousel different from others is that it’s not finished; it’s not actually a carousel. Yet.
For over a decade, a dedicated team of volunteers have been building the carousel from scratch using the traditional carving methods. The museum isn’t really a museum, either; it’s the craft room, where you can see the animals in all stages of production, from design drawings, to rough blocks of wood, to the initial stages of carving, to the finishing detail carving, to the painting. You can talk with the carvers and the sanders and the painters and they’re working. I had a long conversation with a carver as he worked on a bulldog. I didn’t get his name (unfortunately), but he told me about what he was doing and how he got started working on the carousel. Apparently he had never carved before until he volunteered about ten years ago. You wouldn’t be able to tell that based on the work he was doing yesterday.
I enjoyed seeing the construction of the animals, especially after the process was such an important part of “The Last Horse.” I got to see all of the stages of production, instead of just trying to imagine what the process must have looked like based on my reading. It was particularly gratifying the see that I got a lot of it right. If you’re ever in the Albany, Oregon area, I recommend stopping by the Historic Carousel and Museum. It’s a one of a kind experience, even if you’re not all that interested in carousels.