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.