Sculptor and wood artist Marv Beloff, founder of the International Wooden Bow Tie Club, has crafted more than 1,000 ties in his home-based shop in Middlefield, Conn. But the story starts with his first tie.
In the mid-1990s, he was simply looking for a basic bow tie to wear with some of his favorite shirts. He shopped around at countless antique and consignment shops, department stores and online retailers. Frustrated, he decided to make one from some scrap North Carolina yellow pine, using a mallet and chisel.
“I had always worn bow ties in my youth and one day wanted to wear one, but my wife had gotten rid of them. I had been working with North Carolina yellow pine, a hardwood with interesting grain, and noticed a bow tie pattern in the grain and made a bow tie. I enjoyed wearing it and all of my friends wanted one,” Beloff says.
He wore that first bow tie on a television interview and it was a hit. He began making more using various styles and woods. After great success auctioning them off at a charity event, he founded the club.
“People started wanting them with a boat or a ukulele on them to express their hobbies and a few wanted them with tragedy and comedy masks. Within the next three years, I started making custom ones with all different designs on them.”
Beloff exhibits and sells his bow ties at several art shows in his home state, but they are mainly sold online at www.woodbowties.com. The bow ties start at $50 and fetch as much as $150, depending on detail and wood selection.
“Most of them sell for around $65 in plain black walnut or maple; the ebony ones sell for $75. This is not a way to make a living. I do this because I love doing it. I was a retailer for 40 years and now I’m retired.”
His most unique bow tie was for a psychiatrist who wanted a design depicting him sitting with a patient on a couch. Beloff says it was very challenging to carve the scene in a 3” space on a 4” bow tie, but he succeeded.
“The interesting thing about a wood bow tie is it’s interesting enough that people comment on it. We have so much fun and have met so many people with these bow ties. One time a woman accosted me while I was wearing a bow tie with a fish on it near Father’s Day. I sold it to her right there.”
Contact: International Wooden Bow Tie Club, 24B Rosemary Lane, Middlefield, CT 06455. Tel: 860-349-9328.
This article originally appeared in the May 2014 issue.