Ira Chaffin

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Ira Chaffin

Ira Jay Chaffin (born February 1, 1947 in Escondido, California; died September 5, 2016) was a sculptor and teacher and the owner of the Cobb Lane Bed and Breakfast and Hassinger Daniels Mansion Bed and Breakfast.

Chaffin earned his bachelor of fine arts at the University of Southern California and has taught at California State University in San Marcos, Palomar Community College, the Palm Springs Center for the Visual Arts, the New York Academy of Art, and the 92nd Street YMCA.

In 1976 Chaffin participated in the casting of a replica Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. He was an artist for the stage sets for Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" Broadway production, and has created several marionettes used by the Kennedy Center and the Wolf Trap Theatre in Washington D.C. He completed several sculptures by commission for research into the work of Leonardo da Vinci for the National Gallery of Art. Those pieces are now part of the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institute.

He and his wife, the former Sheila O'Connor, moved to Birmingham from New York City in 2003 and restored a house in Five Points South which they opened as the Cobb Lane Bed & Breakfast two years later.

In Birmingham, Chaffin found a home for his clay modeling studio at Wade Sand and Gravel, as part of the Thomas Project. His competed clay models are then cast at commercial bronze foundries. He is a member of X-8 Artists Collaborative and the Birmingham Art Association. His sculptures of Charles S. McCallum and S. Richardson Hill are displayed at the UAB Mini Park. He cast a statue of Joe Lee Griffin for the Griffin Cancer Society Building and one of a former mayor of Warrior for Warrior City Hall. In 2007 he was commissioned to create a statue of Joseph Zoettl, creator of the Ave Maria Grotto. Many of his works are displayed at his bed and breakfast, as well.

Since 1999 Chaffin has specialized in hand-carving traditional wooden carousel horses. He began teaching classes in woodcarving in 2001 and has taught at UAB Adult Eduction and the Birmingham Museum of Art. He led the weekly workshop for the Birmingham Carousel Horse Carvers at Woodcraft in Pelham until he opened his own Chaffin Carousel Carving School in Five Points South in 2009. He has also taught at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.

Chaffin died in 2016 of pancreatic cancer. He is buried at Oak Hill Cemetery.


  • Farnell, Kathie (November 2007) "Ira Chaffin: Carving a piece of the past." Portico
  • Seale, Kathy (March 22, 2009) "Wooden carousel horses make Birmingham, Alabama sculptor's world go around." The Birmingham News
  • Williams, Roy L. (September 26, 2009) "Bronze sculptor Ira Chaffin chisels his own niche in Birmingham with one of the nation's few wooden carousel animal carving school." The Birmingham News
  • Reynolds, Ed (September 15, 2011) "Merry-Go-Round Menagerie: A sculptor and master craftsman shares his skills." Black & White

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