Malcolm Sharp, Artist
The art of snake cane carving is practiced throughout the world, and has a rich history in southern Appalachia. The process begins when a vine wraps itself around a tree branch and fuses to it, ultimately causing the branch to die and fall. The result is a wooden stick with a snake-like coil wrapped around it.
Currahee Twisted Sticks was born from a love of the outdoors and a God given talent for drawing, carving and sculpting. One afternoon while walking through the woods, my wife and I spotted a small twisted tree standing out by itself. My wife said, "You should cut that down and make a walking stick". So, a while later, that's what I did. After letting it dry, I began to carve it. The twist in the wood looked a little like a snake, so that's what it became. Later, while watching Antiques Roadshow, I discovered that this is actually an old Appalachian folk art and not many people do it anymore. I wanted to keep the art alive, so I kept carving and started selling them at reptile shows, arts & crafts fairs and art shows.
After being diagnosed with a tethered spinal cord, I was unable to get out to hike and hunt like I once did. So I started carving to fill my time. I used hike through the woods of northeast Georgia looking for small trees that have a vine growing around them causing the tree to bulge and twist as it grows (now mostly I have other people find them for me). Once they are cut down, the trees have to dry for about year before the carving begins. The carving takes anywhere from a couple of weeks to a couple of months depending on the complexity of the design. Most of the coloring is done in stains except for the brighter colors and some white which is done in paint. I use whatever it takes to get the carving done, from knives and chisels, razor blades, dremel tool, pocket knife, and lots of sanding. Many of the tools and burs/bits I use are handmade by me also. My walking sticks are all wood, one solid piece, no taxidermy or snake skin added. While most people display their sticks as art, they are functional walking sticks. Should you ever break your stick or it becomes worn out, scuffed or chipped just pay shipping and send it back and I will do my best to restore it free of charge. Sticks can be custom ordered to a particular species, or even be made to replicate your own pet snake!
If you're interested in owning your very own unique walking stick, or think you may want one in the future, please contact me at 706-244-2329. If we don't answer, leave a message. It takes up to a year for a green cut stick too dry, so if you have a special request, contact me sooner rather than later. Keep in mind, these one of a kind works of art make great gifts!!!
I had the honor of meeting Greg Nicotero (producer/special effects), Tate Steinsiek (special effects), Lenny James (actor) and Steve Scruggs (snakemaster) and sharing my work with them!
These photos show a little bit of the process and some before and after images