Creating a Healing Machine
January 25th, 2016 by Anne Herman

Lead carver Ernie Jenner works on one of his creations for what he calls “The Healing Machine.”

Lead carver Ernie Jenner works on one of his creations for what he calls “The Healing Machine.”

The city of North Bend, Washington, has a vision. It is a big vision that includes fun for residents and tourists, stimulating local business, fostering the arts and culture, honoring veterans and spreading happiness.

It starts with a pavilion designed to house a carousel, theater productions and other cultural events. The structure will be made of plate glass with sliding doors to allow the carousel to roll outside in good weather and make room inside the building for other uses.

The carousel itself will feature an imaginative assortment of animals: salmon, with a projection of water flowing under them; a Native American pony surrounded by thundering herds of bison; and a knight’s armored horse next to a horse for a princess.

Ernie Jenner is the lead carver. Isabel Jones of Two Rivers High School is a student artist working on the project.

“I love to draw,” Isabel says. “And now I get to contribute to a project for the community. I usually draw from my imagination, but this is good because I have to draw from pictures.”

Ernie has been a carver for almost 70 years. He taught himself to carve as a child by reading books and magazines. His style of animals is inspired by the eminent Italian creator of carousel animals, Salvatore Cernigliaro.

According to Ernie, Salvatore was responsible for transforming the image of animals from wild-eyed, fearsome creatures to the more cuddly depictions common today.

Ernie’s animals look friendly but also full of life. There is a rabbit with a clock mounted in its side, a giraffe and the head of George Washington’s horse for the North Bend carousel. The horse’s head is so detailed you can see veins in the cheeks.

Ernie’s vision extends beyond artistic pursuit. On his drawing table sits a sheet with the words “The Healing Machine.”

“Carousels bring people together,” he says. “For the time you’re riding, it’s impossible to be angry at anyone. You’re just there to have fun together.”