Stuntman turned wood carver entertains crowds at Dollywood

Stuntman turned wood carver entertains crowds at Dollywood

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Lee Warren's woodcarving shop at Dollywood. Lee Warren's woodcarving shop at Dollywood.
Warren in action. Warren in action.
Another Dollywood artist paints his creations. Another Dollywood artist paints his creations.
Lee Warren and Dolly Parton with his St. Nicholas carvings. Lee Warren and Dolly Parton with his St. Nicholas carvings.
The Santas are available year round. The Santas are available year round.

By KRISTIN FARLEY
6 News Anchor/Reporter

PIGEON FORGE (WATE) - A stuntman turned woodcarver has been entertaining crowds in East Tennessee for more than three decades.

His stories and his artwork are equally amazing, and you can enjoy both at Dollywood.

Nestled in a small, unassuming shop in Craftsman's Valley, you'll find a treasure trove of holiday gift items, life-sized wooden sculptures, custom mantels, and the man behind most of these creations, busy at work.

"Normally takes an hour to two hours to do one of these," said wood carver Lee Warren.

Lee Warren started working at Dollywood when it was Silver Dollar City. The western, gun yielding, stuntman came to right place to perform, but that's not what he had in mind.

"When I came here, they had a street show. But been there, done that, so I walked past the wood carving shop and a six-foot, hand-carved cowboy was on the porch out of a log, and I said maybe that's where those high school art classes come in handy," Warren said, laughing. "Never had use for them, because I wanted to be a stuntman."

35 years later, he is still whittling away and making art, one chisel at a time.

One of his bestsellers, is the spirit faces which are said to give homeowners good luck.

Using v tools, u gouges and a cleanup chisel, Warren turns this piece of wood into art.

"On the third step, I put in the eyes and detailing hair and everything," he said.

Another Dollywood artist does the painting, creating true pieces of art that even Dolly seems to love.

But for Warren, it's more than just the art. It's interacting with the people here.

"I enjoy the entertainment vehicle and the crowd. That's why I do what I do," he said. "I enjoy it."

His passion has led to months long projects like this life-sized Indian and a carousel horse, both showcased in the store.

And while it's not Christmastime, his St. Nicks are on sale year round.

"This is one of the neatest places I've ever worked."

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