The Unexpected Artists

Local couple’s wood carvings are a collaboration of love and trust

While some artists know at a young age they have a talent for a certain craft, some just seem to stumble upon it. Paul Bolinger was one of the latter. He has never written a poem nor sculpted something out of clay, but now creates intricate, beautiful carvings out of wood that are then completed by his wife’s artistic paint techniques.

Kara Thorpe

The journey to their current lifestyle in Haymarket began 30 years ago in California. While Paul, a vice president at a semiconductor company, and his wife Camille, an interior designer, were living the life of high-pressure work environments, they were also seeking an outlet for relieving the stress that comes along with these professions. At a Christmas party that year, a small sign-carving workbench caught Paul’s eye. He became immediately intrigued with the process. A week later, he found himself using some basic carving tools to begin his first pieces. Over the next several years, he continued working on his craft, creating primitive, two-dimensional products and “the work was satisfying and a break from the pressures of the daily grind of the industrial world,” he says. Camille also discovered a hidden talent for painting, using her interior design education and practicing with acrylics on Paul’s early carvings.

Kara Thorpe

The plan worked perfectly! Within hours, the phone rang at the Bolingers’ home — it was the buyer asking to speak to the artist behind this beautiful carving. This was the start of a relationship that “paved the way to Neiman Marcus and other top retail enterprises,” says Paul. The Bolingers gained acclaim when their work was published in Country Home and Early American Life magazines. This led to the couple designing a line of holiday decorations that were sold by stores across the country.

The Bolingers’ carvings will be available for auction at the BARN Community Housing’s holiday fundraiser. The highest bidder will take home a wooden treasure to adorn their home each year. This event is one you won’t want to miss. Go to to purchase a ticket, donate, or explore sponsorship opportunities.

To learn more about the Bolingers and view some of the carvings available for purchase, go to

“What could be more satisfying than to stand before a block of wood with a picture in your mind and begin chipping away at the block to release the image inside? The artist applies paint. The sculptor in clay applies and removes clay; the work can be done and done over again until it is just right. The wood carver can only remove the wood. There is no going back when a mistake is made. The work will either be right or it will not.”

Postscript, 11/7/17

Paul Bolinger’s report on the success of the Father Christmas sculpture at the BARN Home for the Holidays fundraiser on Nov. 4:

“Bond wisely held “Osmund” until the last item in the live auction. Three parties at our table wanted him so we knew there would be some bidding.
The retail price for the carving was marked at $1200 but the bidding started at $500. The bids quickly went to $1100. One family group went to $1500 but a young man and his wife jumped suddenly from there to $2000. We were all momentarily stunned. The family came back at $2100 and that is where it ended.
The BARN received $2100 for Osmund.” 


Christine Craddock
About Christine Craddock 41 Articles
Christine Craddock is a writer, editor, photographer, wife, and mother of two adorable children. She is a faithful contributing writer for Haymarket Lifestyle magazine and has resided in Haymarket since 2006.

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