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Disneyland's Wood Carving Guru | Bartell's Backroads

He's Nevada County's very own Geppetto. At last count, from signs to statues, artist Raymond Kinman has 14 of his hand-carved creations on display at Disneyland, and chances are you'll remember seeing them.

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Have you ever been standing in line at Disneyland and noticed the detail in the signs? Well, if those signs were made from wood, chances are it was carved by Nevada County artist Raymond Kinman.

Indiana Jones Adventure, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Pinocchio’s workshop are just a few of his most notable works of art. Kinman’s wood carvings come and go as Disneyland changes their attractions, but if you visit the park today, you'll probably see some.

"I counted 14 carvings that are still there," said Kinman.

Kinman doesn’t need a lot of space. He works out of his garage in Grass Valley. As you can imagine, working for Disney was a pretty good gig.

"Who doesn't want the Disneyland on their resume? If you are an artist, that’s a good one," he said.

Getting the job at Disney wasn't easy. In fact, before Raymond ever picked up a chisel, he was in a band.

"I was 20 years old. I had a baby coming and the band wasn't cutting it," said Kinman.

To make money he took an odd job making a wood sign for a friend.

"I didn't have any tools or any know-how about woodworking, but I was pretty sure I could do it."

The sign looked good and people took notice. Years later, and after hundreds of carvings, the right person took notice.

"One day the senior graphic designer for Disney walked into a restaurant, where I did work, and called me up."

Today, Kinman does a lot of custom work for different clients and even teaches woodworking classes. Kinman uses a wood called "Jelutong" for his signs. It’s a rubber tree from Malaysia and it carves like butter.

“I love teaching people to work with wood," said Kinman. “I am self-taught and others can learn too."

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