Wood You Believe This?!


Amanda Mourelatos, Reporter

“I love the opportunity to create whatever you’d like and being able to have some alone time,” said Junior Alexander Rios-Fuentes. His art teacher in 7th grade introduced stone carving, wood carving, and oil paintings to his class. Wood carvings stood out the most, so he talked to his parents and they got the materials for him. This xylotomous Cougar taught himself how to carve wood by trial and error when he was just 12 years old. He started majorly improving around 9th grade when he began selling some of his work.

Some of Alex’s key chain pieces, and some candle holders.

Alex has sculpted anything from a live-sized fish to a wooden board with a chicken and a sunset in the background. He also carves smaller things, such as key chains of bears, hedgehogs, tigers, owls, and more. His favorite carving is a wolf key chain. About 4 hours every day, Alex is working on his projects.

He uses oak wood that his dad gets from his job in Flagstaff, and sometimes the wood sold at Michael’s. His instruments include a chainsaw, and a mallet/chisel.

Being able to have enough patience to create something good instead of rushing everything is one of his strengths when it comes to wood carving. His weakness is if he gets a project wrong, he tends to trash it and never come back to it.

Although his work is focused around animals, he once got asked to carve a portrait of a girl’s mother. That was the hardest carving he’s ever done, and it took him 3 months. After all his hard work was done, the daughter decided she didn’t want it after all. One thing he has always wanted to carve is a “dagger piercing a rose.”

He prices his pieces by size: a key chain-size is $5, a small oak is $20, a medium oak is $35, and a large oak is $50. The smaller pieces take about a week to finish, and larger pieces take 1 to 2 months.

Alex isn’t just a carver, but also a big brother, musician, and artist. He has two siblings named Marissa, 11, and Bryan, 6. He enjoys playing electric guitar, alto sax, and violin and mostly plays rock, classical, and smooth jazz music. Oil painting is another technique he picked up from his 7th-grade art teacher. In the future, Alex would like to be either an astrophysicist, an EMT, or a cognitive psychologist, but continue to carve wood on the side. In Alex’s free time, he has learned from Bob Ross the value of patience and not being too critical of your own work.

Alex’s opinion on if people should learn how to carve wood is, “I think if people take an interest, they definitely should. As long as you have the time and patience for it because it’s easy to lose motivation. It’s also really good for relieving stress and anxiety.”