Up and Down, Round and Around

We recently had a chance to travel back in time to Mansfield, Ohio – home of the Carousel Works, the world’s largest manufacturer of one-of-a-kind wooden carousels. Ornate horses seemed to hang in mid-air, like a scene from a child’s fairy tale.

Reminiscent of the Lion King, animals like this are carved out of bass wood from the deciduous linden tree. Its pale soft timber lends itself to the give and take needed to withstand fluctuating weather elements.

Steady hands are essential in this line of work.

Thinking of acquiring a single animal for your family room or study? Depending on size and detail, one animal can cost between 3-10K.

A talented team of artisans work to bring each figure to life. Craftsmanship and attention to the smallest details by each individual go into the overall group effort in producing one carousel. The carousel for the  Smithsonian National Zoo, currently in production, will take one year to complete.

Templates for each figure are first cut out of plywood.

After multiple sanding – electric and hand – and three coats of primer, colorful acrylic paints are applied, followed by a clear, protective coat.

The clear top coating not only gives them their shine, but also protects them from years of wear and sticky cotton candy coated hands!

Scenery panels and panoramic scenes are custom designed to compliment each carousel’s theme. Each one is then hand painted on a blank canvas.

Animal Parade: Finished animals await their final destination.

Designed, carved and painted by the Carousel Works, the Richland Carrousel in Mansfield, Ohio is a menagerie of 52 animals. The horse in front of each chariot swivels, allowing the chariot seat to flip up, to accommodate a wheelchair.

An interesting side note:  The inside animals on the carousel go 3.7 miles per hour, while the outside animals go 6.75 miles per hour. Any physics majors care to venture a guess as to why?

While the Carousel Works is not open for public tours, you can take a virtual tour of the factory, as well as find a listing of locations of all their public carousels at www.carouselworks.com.

For more info and visitor’s hours for the Mansfield Richland Carrousel Park, visit www.richlandcarrousel.com.

In Columbus, Ohio, visit the Columbus Commons Carousel, located downtown on the former site of the City Center.  This 24-foot-diameter wooden carousel was also built by the Carousel Works.

19 responses to “Up and Down, Round and Around

  1. Love the photos, Larry!

  2. Just enjoyed the Oasis of the Seas carousel – it’s a masterpiece!

  3. I could practically smell the wood.

  4. It is inspiring to see artisans sculpt and shape.

  5. Beautiful shots, Larry! I think this is the same company that produced the giant animals in the new patient tower at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

  6. Larry – Your usual great shots! The Carousel Works had an open house a couple of years ago to benefit the Mansfield Art Center. It was a treat to be able to see these amazing creatures being brought to life by the talented people who work there. Truly a jewel of Mansfield. Thanks to all!

  7. Good stuff, Larry. Captures the beauty and spirit of the craft.

  8. Thanks, great work as usual.

  9. Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pictures! Our son loves carousels, and we are so fortunate to be in Columbus… Not too far away from many examples of Carousel Works craftsmanship!

  10. Larry:

    You are so lucky to go to and see all these wonderful places and things that most people don’t get to see. Thanks for sharing it with us.
    Shelley and Jim

  11. Awesome work yet again; all the way around! Who writes this stuff for you?

  12. Another masterful job of capturing the beautiful handiwork of Carousel Works.

  13. I’ve had the fantastic opportunity to watch the Carousel Works grow from its infancy to what it is today, and to have Art Richey as my friend all this time. Art and his crew are unsurpassed in their artistic ability, and because of them we have one of the world’s most unique operating carousels to enjoy in our city. These wonderful photos tell only a brief part of the story, you must see it to fully appreciate any of their creations . . . it’s not just the carved creatures, it’s the entire mechanism they create from the floor up.

  14. What an obscure industry and company. Never thought they were hand crafted. Thanks for sharing.

  15. Great stuff, Larry! Now I can’t wait to see the new Columbus Commons Carousel.

  16. Beautiful! The talent it takes to create these marvelous creatures is amazing. Thanks, Larry, for sharing.

  17. Great pictures, as usual. Also, a very interesting story narrative and pictures to go with it. Thanks.

  18. Very cool hardworking artists.

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