Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 40 Issue 19 • Sept. 9-15, 2010
now in our 40th season

The Art of Carving

Paul McCarthyPerched on the hill at 167 Orange Street, near the island’s main rotary, is a shop-gallery-studio like no other on Nantucket.  This is where many of the beautifully carved wooden signs that announce Nantucket businesses are created.  This is where the exquisite eagles and custom carvings that adorn island homes are born.  And this is the place to come if you want a carved quarterboard that is destined to become a family heirloom.  This is the home of Nantucket Carving and Folk Art.

Mastercarver Paul McCarthy has plied his trade since 1969, and over the years he has honed his craft and perfected his talents to become one of the most respected carvers in the Northeast.  Partner Jean Petty has been painting since the age of 12, and works closely with McCarthy as well as creating her own original folk art paintings.

Their location on Orange Street is workshop, studio, gallery, antique store, and gift shop all in one, and in addition to their current custom projects, they also sell furniture from Nantucket’s Blue Barn Door, antiques, art photographs by David Petty, and ship models, jewelry boxes, nautical art, and gift items.


Nantucket Carving and Folk Art is a fascinating place to visit.  Time it right and you can often see them at work.  McCarthy and Petty recently completed an intricate custom carving of Ahab and the Whale for a private client for his summer home on Nantucket.  The three-dimensional piece is a work of art.  On his first visit to the shop, this client announced “I’m here to challenge the master.”  They hear from the interior designer that the client is thrilled with the finished product.


McCarthy and Petty also restore antique carvings, and currently in the shop is the original sign from The Pacific Club on Main Street.  “The wood was cracked, so we had to repair it before we could even begin to refurbish it,” explained McCarthy.  “We like to help keep Nantucket lookin’ good,” Jean added with a smile.  And they certainly do.  Look around town: many of the sturdy and beautiful carved wooden signs are their handiwork.  They are among the very few woodcarving shops that still uses wood and among the few carvers who still handcarve the ends of their quarterboards.

Nantucket Carving and Folk Art is keeping alive the arts on Nantucket and beautifying the Nantucket Town in the process.  The shop-gallery-studio is open year-round.  508-325-7463.


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