The Carvings of Hallie Heacock

Wood panel made of many different kinds of veneer wood, 1953. OHS Museum 71-56.106

October 22, 2020 – April 11, 2021

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Location:
Oregon Historical Society
1200 SW Park Ave
Portland, Oregon 97205
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Hallie Heacock was born in Parsons, Kansas, in 1881. He spent his time in Alaska, Canada, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, before settling in St. Helens, Oregon, in the 1920s. In 1898, at the age of sixteen, Heacock set out for Alaska and the Canadian Yukon Territory with his father, joining the Klondike Gold Rush. It was during these years that Heacock began what would become a lifetime hobby and passion: carving ivory and wood pieces from around the world.

Heacock’s carving hobby came naturally to him. His chosen topics were broad, and he drew inspiration from famous drawings, magazines, and early motion-picture actors. His carvings also reflect life in the mid-twentieth-century and memories from time spent in Alaska and Oregon.

Heacock carved hundreds of pieces in his lifetime. On display in the exhibit is a small selection of the collection that he donated to the Oregon Historical Society. The collection includes over 160 items that Heacock carved, etched, and sketched between 1904 and 1966.

Gallery view of wood carvings in cases.

Gallery view of wood carvings in cases.

OHS Museum 71-56.81.

In 1963, Heacock created this replica of a stamp mill from the early 1700s, when gears were typically made of wood. Miners use stamp mills to crush rock. Heacock used a Diderot Pictorial Encyclopedia as the design inspiration for the mill. This operational replica took Heacock 100 hours to make.

OHS Museum 71-56.81.

OHS Museum 71-56.80.

Heacock carved this figure in 1954 based on a painting called The Red Boy by Sir Thomas Lawrence.

OHS Museum 71-56.80.

OHS Museum 71-56.123

Mosaic of plastic inlaid in a walnut plug. The mosaic is of Mount St. Helens. Carved in 1938.

OHS Museum 71-56.123 .

Gallery view of wood carvings and drawings.

Gallery view of wood carvings and drawings.

OHS Museum 71-56.77.

Heacock carved this figure of an ice skater in 1957 from several different types of wood and then painted it. The figure’s skates are made of copper.

OHS Museum 71-56.77.

OHS Museum 71-56.79

Heacock carved this clock, called “the Hunter,” from a picture of a famous clock in Germany taken in 1830. Carved in 1934.

OHS Museum 71-56.79.

OHS Museum 71-56.120.

Heacock created this black walnut radio cabinet in 1942 while working at the St. Helens Pulp and Paper Mill. It took 850 hours of his spare time to make this piece. On his catalog card he wrote, “The bottom part represents things pertaining to the sea. The cabinet part pertaining to the land, and the top to the air.”

OHS Museum 71-56.120.

OHS Museum 71-56.120.

Detail of the doors of the radio cabinet.

OHS Museum 71-56.120.

Gallery view of wood carvings and drawings.

Gallery view of wood carvings and drawings.

OHS Museum 71-56.118.

Heacock carved this from an illustration called A Glob’s Life by Walt Kelly, which appeared in LIFE Magazine in 1952. Heacock often used popular culture as inspiration for his work. He carved this piece from many different woods, including myrtlewood, dogwood, black walnut, madrone, and sugar pine, and it took ninety hours to complete.

OHS Museum 71-56.118.

OHS Museum 71-56.113

The subject of this carving is Mary Pickford, one of the most popular film actors of the 1910s and 1920s. Carved in 1926.

OHS Museum 71-56.113.

OHS Museum 71-56.114.

Heacock carved this Oregon state seal in 1953 from a variety of woods, including sugar pine, walnut, holly, myrtlewood, satinwood, and lignum vitae.

OHS Museum 71-56.114.

Gallery view of ivory carvings and marquetry panels.

Gallery view of ivory carvings and marquetry panels.

Case containing walrus ivory and plastic etchings and carvings.

Case containing walrus ivory and plastic etchings and carvings.

OHS Museum 71-56.42.

Although Heacock began etching on ivory when he was in Alaska, he later used some of the same techniques on plastic. This plastic etching is double-sided, like many of his works, and features a picture of Lake Oswego after sunrise. Carved in 1953.

OHS Museum 71-56.42.

OHS Museum 71-56.6 and 71-56.30.

Heacock often used both sides of his materials, as with this two-sided etching on a piece of fossilized mastodon tusk. Heacock carved this cribbage board from a large walrus tusk that he found, which had been left too long in the sun, making it particularly hard.

OHS Museum 71-56.6 and 71-56.30.

Museum 71-56.6

Etching on a piece of fossilized mastodon tusk, 1934. The image is the steamer White Horse in five-finger rapids on the Yukon River, Yukon Territory, Canada.

OHS Museum 71-56.6.

OHS Museum 71-56.29

Heacock etched this scene of the wood mill in St. Helens, Oregon, in 1964. Etching and carving on whale teeth and bones is known as scrimshaw, an art form started by sailors on whaling ships in the late eighteenth and early-nineteenth-centuries. At the time, the whaling industry discarded whale teeth, so sailors had plenty of material with which to practice their carving.

OHS Museum 71-56.29.

OHS Museum 71-56.11-.16,.18.

Heacock carved these brooches over two decades. The brooch on the far left is the earliest brooch in the Heacock collection, from 1914. The brooch on the far right took Heacock 300 hours to create.

OHS Museum 71-56.11-.16,.18.

OHS Museum 71-56.1.1,.2.

This miniature replica of the stamp mill at the Treadwell gold mine in Alaska is made of ivory. Heacock and his father worked as repair technicians at the Treadwell mine from 1915 to 1917. This model is on the scale of one-half inch to the foot. It is made of hundreds of pieces, all joined together with ivory pins. Heacock carved this replica while working at the mine in 1915. It took eight months of his spare time to make.

OHS Museum 71-56.1.1,.2.

OHS Museum 71-56.103 and 71-56.115.

This elaborately carved key cabinet has an inlaid wood design of Multnomah Falls on the exterior and an etched design of Wahkeena Falls inside. The large carving commemorates the time Heacock spent as a sixteen year old in the Klondike in 1898. Carved in 1961.

OHS Museum 71-56.103 and 71-56.115.

OHS Museum 2002-49.3

Hallie Heacock and his father in an Alaskan mining town, 1910.

OHS Museum 2002-49.3.

OHS Museum 2002-49.3

Hallie Heacock with some of his carvings.

OHS Museum 2002-49.3.