October 2016

by Jane R. Snyder

Michelangelo found his masterpieces hidden within blocks of marble. Middle Tennessee carver and sculptor Lundy Cupp discovers his in basswood, hickory, oak, pine, poplar, red cedar, and walnut. Occasionally, he employs more unusual mediums like discarded books, elk’s horn, or even golf balls. When fall’s cooler temperatures arrive, this talented artist turns to colorful produce—pumpkins, squash, gourds, and sweet potatoes.


This year, you can join in using his just-published illustrated book REALISTIC PUMPKIN CARVING, 24 Spooky, Scary, and Spine-Chilling Designs as your guide. Be forewarned though, in the true spirit of All Hallows’ Eve, some of Lundy’s characters might raise goosebumps! He will be signing books and carving pumpkins at Green Door Gourmet on Sunday, October 2, and at Cheekwood Museum of Art on Saturday, October 8, leaving you plenty of time to practice before the holiday actually arrives.

Even though Lundy Cupp has been successful in other jobs—criminal fraud investigator and professional drummer among them—there is no doubt that carving is what he was born to do. If you ask this Minnesota native about his art, he speaks with unbridled enthusiasm.

“Carving is in my heart. It’s my passion. It’s in my soul. I can’t wait to begin another piece. I can’t wait to continue to create. A true artist can’t not create—you have to do whatever makes your heart soar!” And soar the artist does, preferably in the evenings and, often, without even realizing how much time has gone by, straight into the wee hours of the next morning.

“Being a professional musician for so many years I’m a night guy, primarily. In my studio, it’s quiet, it’s dark, and the music is on—usually something ambient or jazz—so I can concentrate. As a former investigator, I’m into details.”

Details are as necessary as breathing in a studio where chisels, gouges, knives, scalpels, chainsaws, angle grinders, ribbon, and rotary tools abound. Lundy explains with pride that some pieces of equipment, including his father’s Industrial Age tanker desk, are still-operational family heirlooms.

His Kingston Springs workspace is filled with intricate works in progress, completed pieces in a wide range of sizes, and tree branches or logs just waiting their turn beneath his nimble fingers. With hands as steady as a surgeon’s, no matter what his design or medium, it is essential that the artist pay careful attention as he carves deeper into each composition.

“My favorite thing to do is to take a piece of wood, pumpkin, or whatever, and just begin without any preconceived ideas and just see who shows up. Commission work or a portrait is very specific, but when I just kind of let go and make cuts free-style, that is the most fun because I don’t really know who will show up—I’m just as surprised as anyone else. I know it sounds strange, but it happens. That action of creative spontaneity is pure joy for me.”

Because they started out as trees, more recently Lundy decided to explore what would happen if he carved into books. Gluing together multiple volumes of obsolete encyclopedias, he has sculpted Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, and other iconic faces. His experiment has proved to be a fascinating one, and it has attracted equally fascinated collectors.


Lundy Cupp

“When I let go and make cuts freestyle I don’t really know who will show up—I’m just as surprised as anyone else.”

Viewing Lundy’s work, it’s hard to imagine how much patience is required to create these lifelike faces. To complete a single book portrait takes him about one hundred hours.

“Since mine is a subtractive art,” he reveals with a wise, accepting smile, “once it’s gone; it’s gone. So, when a face comes out right, it’s just amazing.”

If you happen to be at a Halloween party and find an inquisitive fellow studying the contours of your face, introduce yourself. Lundy Cupp will be the talented artist standing just beyond your glass of pumpkin punch!

Visit Lundy Cupp’s website: www.lundycupp.com.


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