East Texan carves and paints wooden Santa Clauses to spread joy

Published: Nov. 13, 2022 at 5:57 PM CST
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - One East Texan has found his purpose through carving, and not just any carving, but hand carving wooden Santa Clauses in an effort to spread Christmas joy.

Marvin Melton, who’s claimed the title, Santa Carver, and his four-legged helper, Noel, head into his shop. Frosted windows, lights, and Christmas music make this place his winter wonderland.

“I come in here everyday, I turn the lights on, I turn the Christmas music on and I carve Santas, and this is what keeps me going,” he said.

Melton first saw wooden Santa Clauses on a trip to Alaska in 2012. In 2013 Melton had to get surgery on his neck and has been mostly homebound ever since.

“This is more like my sanctuary I guess would be the way to put it. This is my solemn place to come,” Melton said. “I carve these and I always think of the Nativity because of the season. If it wasn’t for Christ we wouldn’t have the Nativity and this season, so it always inspires me.”

He’s got shelves filled with wood from all over – Nebraska, Colorado, Wisconsin, the list goes on. He starts with a block of wood, then Melton shapes it, and begins making a pattern. As each wood chip falls, similar to a snowflake, unique in its own way, he creates a special piece.

“I just imagine how I want him to look. Then I’ll change this one, sometimes I like to flare the beard, sometimes I like to twist the beard and have the eyes, instead of looking forward, have them look a little to the right or to the left. It gives them a little character,” Melton said.

As for how long each one takes, he said, “The best answer I can give is, as long as it takes. Sometimes, depending on what goes into them, I’ve spent as much as two weeks and some of them I can get done in a day. It depends on the size and the details.”

He said he does it for the joy.

“It gives me something to do because I have very little to do outside of this. I don’t drive, we got rid of my vehicle, I don’t know how many years ago because I have seizures,” Melton said. “I can’t pick up heavy items and if you look around, I’ve got a lot of wood in here and logs, but I have very good friends that carry them in here and put them on the shelves for me, and get them down to where I can manage them.”

Melton said he doesn’t make a living doing this, but it helps support his hobby because he can’t work.

“This is where I stay, so it keeps me going,” he said.

Melton tells us he’s booked through January with orders. You can find him on the Nextdoor app and get in contact with him about placing an order for next year.