CAPEVILLE, V.A. (WAVY) — Tucked away at the end of a dirt road in Capeville, Virginia, a few miles from Kiptopeke State park, you’ll find 83-year-old John Morris.
He’s been chipping away at art projects since he was in his 20s.
Instead of using a paintbrush and canvas, construction tools and wood are at the root of his creations. Some of his best work is kept in his sister’s garage.
“One thing I like about art is it’s like a company to me. I didn’t have a lot of friends…it was just like having company all around me, it would just uplift me,” Morris said.
Chiseled in all the right places, he’s turned chunks of cedar into clocks, bowls, and mirrors. The inspiration for it all goes back to another Norfolk-based artist, Clarence Bullock.
“He was the guy who painted the picture of John Kennedy and presented it to the White House…my work became pretty good so after he called himself the wood doctor, I named myself the wood surgeon. That’s what I call myself, the wood surgeon,” Morris said.
For Morris, no “surgeries” were more time-consuming than his wooden chain.
“I came home, I found an old piece of wood and I went in my little shop, and I just started to carve, carve, and carved, You can see it’s old; it took me a long time…It took me at least 3 hours just for this small piece here,” Morris said.
Beaming with pride, he called Bullock.
“He said, ‘man, you’ve got something there. Look, why don’t you try for the world book Guinness record.'”
Bullocks’ suggestion from 2010 led to a masterpiece you have to see to believe.
“Patience, it takes a lot of patience,” Morris said.
Each link of pine, all 9,600 of them, is meticulously sanded and shaped to match the one before it. The 1600-foot wooden chain can be dragged out a quarter of a mile.
“It’s unbelievable, I knew he could do it because he’s really good at art,” said Deloris Dillard, Morris’ sister.
“It’s so simple I can’t even tell you. It’s not hard at all, it’s simple as 1, 2, 3,” Morris said.
So easy, he says he may need a bigger box.
“You know what I’m thinking now? I’m thinking about maybe adding on to that; take it to 2000 feet, just keep on keeping on,” Morris said.
Morris has been trying to reach the right person to make sure his world record is in the record books. But even if it isn’t officially his–
“It doesn’t make no difference. I got it right here, I got proof right here,” he said.