Woodcarvers Guild of America in North Carolina is among the most prestigious woodcarves guilds in the country.
Its members are responsible for carving, decorating and overseeing the craft of carving, as well as producing and selling woodcarved items such as furniture, carvings and pottery.
But the guild has struggled to maintain its popularity in recent years, as its membership dwindled in recent decades.
The guild’s membership has been shrinking since 2011, and by the end of 2018, fewer than 100 members remained, according to a recent report from the Woodcarving Guild of North Carolina.
Many of those who are still in the guild are retired and retired-to-work woodcarve apprentices.
Some of the members who are retiring or retiring-towork have no plans to leave the guild, according the report.
The report found that the woodcarvings guild lost about $15 million in membership last year.
The Woodcarves Guild of Kentucky lost $5 million in members in 2018.
Woodcarve and potteries are traditionally the guilds core business, said Kevin Eason, the Woodcraft Association of America’s president and CEO.
The woodcarvels guild is trying to regain its image and credibility in the art world, Eason said.
“We have to be a little more professional in how we do business,” he said.
The decline in members has led the wood carvers guild to explore new business models.
It has begun to hire people with woodcarvest expertise, said Peter Kieckhefer, president and chief executive officer of the Wood Carving Guild in Tennessee.
He said the guild will soon be offering a “one-day woodcarven” course for apprentices to become full-fledged members.
Kiekhefer said he doesn’t anticipate a big influx of new members to the guild.
“It’s not something that we’re looking at right now,” he told the Tennessean.
The Tennessee woodcarvey association said the association’s 2018 membership was up 5.7 percent.
“Our membership numbers are down by about 25 percent,” Kiekel said.
In 2018, Woodcraft’s membership grew to more than 3,500, but the association said that it is not seeing any growth in membership in 2019.
The organization plans to create a new website and webinar series to help promote its brand, Kiekes said.
That’s important because many of its members are not familiar with the craft.
Kiedek said he believes that the WoodCarving Guild is in the middle of a renaissance in woodcarvils.
“I think it’s an amazing time to be an artist in the United States,” he added.
“There are a lot of new artists out there, and we have some very talented people in the woodcraft world.”