What a fantastic work of art! This is Bruce Reed’s (Native Cherokee craftsman) rendition of the war club wielded by the character, Totsuhwa, in the novels Cherokee Talisman and Losing St. Christopher. The war club is amazingly a single piece of walnut handcrafted in the traditional methods of the Cherokee over the course of several weeks. Mr. Reed recounts that he can only work on a piece when it “feels right,” that is, the piece is speaking to him and is ready to be molded under his hand. There is no machining done – the work is done completely by hand – including the extensive carving and sanding, which is done with loose sand in a piece of tanned hide in the traditional way.
To begin, Mr. Reed looks for wood and carefully examines the grain to insure its direction will match the outline of the piece in his mind. In Totsuhwa’s war club, the size and heft had to match a powerful warrior shaman with strong ties to the spiritual world – hence the eagle talons honed from the original chunk of walnut. The staining is also done in the time honored tradition of the Cherokee by utilizing natural herbs and roots for color. The shine is supplied by natural beeswax.
Several months after meeting Mr. Reed on a promotional tour for Cherokee Talisman and the sequel, Losing St. Christopher, while in Cherokee, NC, I am pleased to have his original work displayed prominently in my office next to a sculpture by Frederic Remington (Cheyenne) and handcrafted flint knives by other Cherokee artisans.
The piece captures the character of Totsuhwa expertly – it takes little imagination to see him delivering a blow for his people and to protect his family as he does in the novels. An enormous thank you to Mr. Bruce Reed of Cherokee, NC, for his astounding craftsmanship and also congratulations on the war club as the 1st Place Winner in the 2014 Cherokee Fall Fair. I am honored to display it.