Every day, a guest in the shop will be surprised to see a little wooden mouse peeking over a shelf. Under ordinary circumstances, spotting a mouse nearby would not be a source of delight and laughter. Yet this is ever the case with the wee wooden friends carved by Joe Offerman.
Offerman worked as a speech and hearing pathologist for 35 years, retiring in 1985. At this time, he turned his attention and talent to carving wood full time and has been doing so ever since. His passion for carving has taken over the garage and a spare bedroom in his home.
Sarah discovered Joe and his mice at a Kentucky Craft Show shortly after purchasing the shop in 1997. The mice are a longtime customer favorite, each hand carved with a leather tail and horse hair whiskers. One of our guests tell us that when he is invited to a dinner party, he leaves one of Offerman’s mice on a shelf as a gift for the host to discover later! (We’re not sure how many repeat invitations he receives!)
In recent years, we’ve added Joe’s driftwood spirit carvings to the shop. The “Tree Spirits” as he calls them, have quickly joined their mouse friends as among the most remarked about items in the shop. Offerman combs the Ohio River banks to gather the driftwood he needs to create these Tree Spirits which he purports will ward off bad dreams!
Joe’s mice hold a dear spot in Sarah’s heart as it is among the first new work that she selected as a neophyte gallery owner over 20 years ago. The delight of our guests upon discovering the mice at the shop was a welcome affirmation that she was on the right path.
The carvings of Joe Offerman can be seen in two New York City museums, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the American Museum of Folk Art. His work is also part of a collection in the White House, and of course, can be found at Helen Winnemore’s. :)