Juan Jeronimo Marin has won a few wood carving awards at shows around the Northwest, including a third place at the Bettendorf International Wood Carving Show in 2007.
But he had not taken home a best of show -- until last week.
That's when the Kennewick artist learned his intricately carved jewelry box featuring Noah's Ark won the overall prize at the Artistry in Wood Show in Spokane.
"I usually drop off carvings (at various shows) on Friday, then return on Saturday morning to see how they did," Marin said.
At this particular show, however, Marin walked in the next morning to a crowd of fellow carvers clapping and cheering for him.
"As you can imagine, I was thrilled and ecstatic and overcome with joy," he said. "I approached the (judges') table and saw the most beautiful ribbons and best of show trophy."
Marin's winning jewelry box is 16-by-8-by-10 inches and carved from tiger-striped maple wood and black walnut.
The front and back panels feature Noah's Ark and many animals chip-carved into the sides, and on the inside panel there are two giraffe carvings.
On the inside of the lid Marin also carved a biblical passage from Genesis 9:15 that reads: "When the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the promise I have made to all living creatures on Earth."
Marin, a nuclear security officer for Energy Northwest at Hanford, was introduced to wood carving by a co-worker about 10 years ago.
He took an avid interest in chip carving, which is a more decorative style of carving characterized by what looks like effortless facets, flawless grooves and sharp ridges.
Marin hadn't an inkling of his artistic talent growing up on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Toppenish.
He told the Herald a few years ago "I did farm work as a kid. I never knew I had any kind of artistic talent."
But the young boy with no interest in art blossomed into an artist determined to learn his craft.
"I do tend to persist at something until I get it right," he said.
*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514; firstname.lastname@example.org