Friday, December 21, 2007

Woodwork is her creative outlet

unedited 12-07 Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

Creativity is everywhere. From the aroma wafting from the kitchen to the walls adorned with her mother’s handmade quilts to the dust from the various saws in the garage to the paints and woodwork in her studio.
Roberta Saling’s house is all about crafts.
It all started because she casually mentioned to her husband, Jack Wildberger, she would like to try her hand at wood. He bought her a scroll saw.
Since that gift of 16 or so years ago, Saling has accumulated an array of devices that have helped her evolve into the artist she is today.
“The drill press is probably the best thing (my husband) ever bought me because I can’t drill a straight hole for anything,” Saling said.
A box of snowman arms is near the sander. Scraps of wood and the dust associated with cutting intricate, small ornaments are left behind.
Pine and Baltic birch plywood are what she uses most. The latter doesn’t warp like pine.
Upstairs is where she likes it best – painting is her favorite part of the process.
“I’m into shading, not flat painting,” Saling said. “Some things I just do to see if I can do them, like more intricate painting.”
Just after the Holiday Faire at Valhalla she was working on items for a woman who lost everything in the Angora Fire. The survivor was able to pick up a manger and some other things that weekend, but asked Saling if she’d work on a few other replacements.
“She has bought things from me since 1994 … to the point that she said ‘I no longer have space’,” Saling said of the Angora survivor. Now the owner of Birdworks is helping her customer acquire woodwork for her home that she’ll move into in May.
Trees, bears and snowmen are Saling’s favorite themes. Holiday items top the list this time of year, but she has an array of goods, like welcome signs, that are appropriate everyday of the year.
Most of the pieces she cuts herself, though she’ll buy some designs and paint the raw wood.
She is self-taught. Though the quality and detail looks like she could teach a class or two, she is quick to say she could learn a lot if she ever took a course.
Just before the holiday faire, Saling was spending up to eight hours a day working on her craft. Work begins in September to make sure she has enough goods to sell at the annual event.
Several years ago she rented space in the Bijou Center where her woodwork was on display for sale. The shop closed. If a similar opportunity presents itself, she would do it. Saling admits the creative part comes easy for her. It’s the selling that is not her forte.
Saling may be reached at (530) 544-6883.

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