Saturday, December 1, 2007

Sermon inspires craftsman to create image

By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer

His portrait of Jesus was born of a sermon.
For six weeks, the Rev. Thomas Allen of Grace Presbyterian Church spoke about prayer, its importance and its many forms. And for six weeks, Lowell 'Kirk' Kirkley of Temple listened.
Once the sermon series ended, the owner of K&D Crafts went home to his workroom.
'I had an image in mind,' Kirkley said, pointing to a drawing of a praying Jesus by German artist Volker Arnold. 'I wanted to capture it in wood.'
His first step was to transpose the glossy picture to red oak plywood. Then for six hours, Kirkley said he sat on a stool, hunched over a scroll saw - a cutting tool that uses a serrated blade as thin as a nail file.
An image of Christ at prayer was what remained after the sawdust was wiped from the surface.
Kirkley held a replica of his original Jesus portrait toward the setting sun. As light shined through the sawed-away places, a silhouette of Jesus appeared.
The original hangs at Grace Presbyterian Church, on a bed of black felt, framed in maple. 'I presented in the honor of our pastor,' Kirkley said. 'I wanted to thank him for his words, for what he taught us.'
Naomi Ingrim is familiar with Kirkley's Jesus portrait. She's the pastoral assistant at Grace Presbyterian Church.
'People who have seen it have been brought to tears,' Ms. Ingrim said. 'The lines in Jesus' face, around his eyes, are so delicate, so detailed that you get the expression of Jesus as he prays.'
Congregation members, Ms. Ingrim said, remember the sermon series when they look at it.
'It's like it triggers the memory,' Ms. Ingrim said. '(The Rev. Allen) was very moved to receive the portrait. When you preach, you hope that the spirit of God uses your words to move the hearts of the congregation.'
A commissioned lay pastor, Ms. Ingrim said she was using her own experience to describe the goals of those who give sermons.
'(Kirkley) heard the words and felt moved to make the portrait,' Ms. Ingrim said. 'He forever captured in wood the moment that the spirit moved him.'
And that is something the Rev. Allen appreciates.
'It's an honor to feel like you've touched base with someone,' the Rev. Allen said. 'That he felt my words tug at his heart. The Jesus portrait is a beautiful piece of work. (Kirkley's) got a wonderful gift.'
The Jesus portrait is not Kirkley's first artistic contribution to the church.
Kirkley made a display case for the church to display gifts from its sister church in India. He also carved a wooden cross for the sister church in India as a gift from Grace Presbyterian.
He's made gifts like picture frames and ornaments for congregation members and staff employees. Ms. Ingrim mentioned that Kirkley also crafted a toy train set for the children in Vacation Bible School.
On Sunday, choir members will receive the holiday ornaments Kirkley made for them.
'They're beautiful,' said Sean Mann, choir director. 'They're in the shape of music notes. Each one has the shape of a holly carved in it and a message of 'Happy Holidays.' He said he wanted to do this because of all the choir's hard work.'
The nifty thing about the choir's ornaments, Kirkley said, is that they are made of salvaged wood.
'I like to use salvaged wood,' Kirkley said. 'The music notes are made of old fencing.'
Grinning at his wife, Doris, Kirkley said, 'We like to tell our neighbors not to throw out their wood scraps.'
Mrs. Kirkley, incidentally, is the person who put the D in K&D Crafts. D is the initial of her first name, and the K stands for her husband's name. The couple owns the craft shop together.
She too is no stranger to the art of craftmaking. Mrs. Kirkley sews, stitches and paints.
'The joke is, 'I make saw sawdust, and she paints it,'' Kirkley said, laughing.
'But the rule,' Mrs. Kirkley said, 'Is that I get the first of everything he makes.'

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