Local woman's vibrant wood carvings find homes with neighbors, friends and clients

Monica Shockey’s shop, which she calls “Chainsaw Expressions” is pictured above with several of her carved pieces on display.

Here she stands next to a large commissioned piece she completed for a local resident, who asked her to carve a tiki totem pole with a large parrot perched on top. The piece is now displayed in the client’s tiki bar inside his home.

Monica carved this bench, pictured above, featuring two bald eagles for Lost Woods Hideaway Golf Course in Theodosia, where her son Matt Shockey is a co-owner and manager.

The other eagle carving, at left, was made by Monica for Al Sabatino, who mounted it on the remaining stump of a large Sycamore that had to be taken down on his property. It looks toward a flagpole at his house.

Isabella resident Monica Shockey said it was about 15 years ago when her daughter-in-law gave her a birthday gift that led her to a hobby that’s she’s continued ever since. 

“My daughter-in-law gave me this cute little carved bear for my birthday, and I just loved it. I kept looking at it, and I just thought, ‘You know, I think I could make this.’ I can’t draw anything, but I felt like I could carve that bear. So, I went out back, got the chainsaw, grabbed some wood and started in,” Monica told the Times in a recent interview. “After I did the first bear, I just fell in love with doing it.”

She said that first piece, modeled after the gift from her daughter-in-law, still sits out at her carving shed to remind her of where she started. She’s honed her skills over the last decade and a half, and now Monica often lets the wood itself shape the art. She has a pile of wood pieces for future carvings on her property in Isabella, and each piece sits to dry for about a year before she uses them to carve. 

“Then I look at the piece of wood and decide from there. A lot of carvers get big, big logs and shape them down, but I don’t do it that way. I look at the piece of wood and use its natural shape. It’s surprising what you can see in a piece of wood,” she said. “I often drive down the road and see limbs or pieces of wood along the roads and think, ‘Oh, that’d make a perfect owl’ or whatever it reminds me of.”

Monica says the process usually begins by cutting the wood down to size, generally to a 4-foot to 5-foot piece. Then she peels the bark off, which is sometimes difficult. After that, she takes her chainsaw and begins creating the shapes and notches needed to transform the wood into a friendly bear, majestic eagle, St. Louis cardinal - or whatever other quirky character she dreams up. 

“I only have the one chainsaw, so that’s what I use for the whole process. And sometimes I’ll torch them to make them look burned or paint them. Then I sand them down and coat it all in a layer of polyurethane,” she said. 

Monica says word has gotten out over the years from friends or acquaintances who hire her occasionally to make a carved piece for them. She also sets up at a craft fair once a year in Shell Knob. 

She carves all sorts of animals, along with other interesting pieces. Among her more unique work includes a commissioned large tiki totem pole with a parrot at the top, which a client now has housed in his tiki bar inside his home. She’s also made a carved bench for Lost Woods Hideaway Golf Course, where her son Matt Shockey is a co-owner and manager, and a carved personalized tombstone for a soccer lover. 

Although the work is steady, Monica is quick to explain that her carving is a hobby, not a business venture. 

“I’m really as busy as I want to be now. I’m close to 70, and I just do this because I like it. What I don’t want is it to feel like a job. It’s a hobby. It’s fun, and it’s therapeutic for me. So, I enjoy working at my own pace."

It’s no doubt that the friends and neighbors who are lucky enough to have been a recipient of Monica’s work are thankful that she took up that hobby - and for that birthday-gifted bear carving given to her all those years ago.

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
PO Box 188
Gainesville, MO 65655

Phone: (417) 679-4641
Fax: (417) 679-3423