Anyone who knows Phil Sedlacek of Mercer Island would say he’s got a thing for Santa Claus. For more than 40 years, Sedlacek has been creating hand-carved Santas.
He said he’s lost count of how many he’s made.
“I know it’s somewhere between 50 and 75,” Sedlacek said. “But honestly, there’s been so many that I wouldn’t doubt that there’s even way more than that.”
Sedlacek was first introduced to wood carving through his father. Aside from carving Santas, he carves animals — most commonly ducks.
He doesn’t carve the typical Santa Claus that everyone knows. Many of his Santas are long and lean, some short and fat, varying beard lengths, and expressions that are anything but jolly.
“I think they all have a fun look,” he said. “I like that some of them have different looks and expressions — some look a bit naughty.”
His inspiration for the diverse Santas usually derive from the wood itself.
“I use a lot of scrap wood that I find around my house. I’ll look at how the lines go through the wood, or I’ll see a hole in the wood, and it’ll look like a nose,” Sedlacek said.
Each Santa usually takes about a week to complete, he said, but it depends on the kind of wood, the design and the size.
Sedlacek has never sold any of his Santas. He’s only given them to close family and friends. One of the greatest rewards for him in creating the Santas is exercising his creativity and seeing his kids and grandchildren enjoying them.