Mohawk Valley Art & Woodcarving Association

October 2000 Newsletter

Well, I got the word that we need to cool it on reprinting the minutes here... just highlights from now on.  That’s cool.  Guess it was just a cheap way for me to fill pages anyway.  Hmm... or maybe it’s because some of  you weren’t showing up at the meetings since you knew I would tell you about it anyway.  That’s it!  No more free ride, only enough to whet your curiosity and get you to show up in person.  Actually, we had a big turn out for our October meeting at 39 members.

I did get a copy of the minutes from our new secretary Tamara Hanson, which will help jog my memory and keep me honest. Andy sent cards out to Walter Bydairk and George Twillinger who weren’t feeling well. Dick Quay is in Intensive Care of St. Peters.  Anyone who usually carves with him who did not get the message, those sessions are canceled for a while.  He needs our Prayers badly.  That’s ‘Good Thoughts’ for the politically correct.  Either way you go, just do it because they’re sure to help.

Upcoming events: 

 November Meeting - Mike Bloomquist (that’s me) is giving a presentation on carving Native American Flutes.  That’s sure to bring  attendance down... remember, you were warned.

December Meeting - Our Christmas dinner.  Bring family, bring friends, bring food, bring a Christmas carving, but don’t miss it.  Meeting business is always short, eating and visiting is always long.  Always a good time.

Anybody who hasn’t paid their dues out there?  Shame on you!  Dues are due and you can send them to ;  Don Painter 1397 Currybush Rd. Schenectady, N.Y. 12306
or; John Raucci 4703 Westline Rd. Amsterdam, N.Y. 12010

They’re still only $6 each or $10 Family


‘Bud’ Murtlow, self described as ‘for the birds’, ended the evening with slides and a discussion of falcons, hawks, & birds-of-prey.  Absolutely first rate presentation.  The following are some notes I jotted down, not direct quotes.  Some of the high points:
  • Immature red-tail hawks have larger tails to compensate for their flying inexperience.  It’s sort of like arial training wheels.
  • Goshawks are a ‘woods’ bird... long tail/short wingspan.  The extremely high strung, ‘type A’ with a corresponding short lifespan.
  • The Merlin Falcon is very smart, and quick to train.
  • Contrary to the ‘wise old owl’ myth, owls are very slow to learn.  Bud says you can hunt them like hawks if you like re-training them every time you go out.  Hmmm... too dumb to train to hunt for humans?  This is just me being a wise a--, but maybe be their just WAY smart.
  • Falcons kill prey before eating, hawks don’t.

Besides some wonderful slides, Bud included a story of how he was encouraged to bring one of his hunting birds into the house to show to some party guests.  Seems when one of these birds has to ummm... relieve itself, they go for distances of  6+ feet.  Well, one of the guests got on the wrong end of a spray of fecal matter.  She must have a real ‘unique’ appreciation for birds of prey.  I cornered Bud after the program to ask about somewhere I could get photo material of Snowy Owls.  He came through with someone in Watertown, NY who rehabs them.  All I have to do is remind him in the newsletter to
bring the phone number to the next meeting (wasn’t that a subtle, sneaky abuse of my newsletter writing privilege?!).  Great program Bud, Thank you.

Got new stuff on the latest woodcarving book. Not sure what it is with me and British woodcarvers lately.  After that seminar with Ian Norbury and this book by Chris Pye, “Elements of Woodcarving”, I doubt my carving is going to suffer for it.  “Elements of Woodcarving”  is Chris Pye’s latest, and I found a copy at the Borders in Rochester.  One of the ‘benys’ of college hunting with your daughter is visiting those great bookstores you don’t have a good excuse to drive 3+ hours to see otherwise.  I’ve got a copy of  Mr. Pye’s “Woodcarving; Tools, Materials, & Equipment” from several years ago.  It’s a great reference book for tools, materials, and equipment, but there are no projects or techniques.  “Elements” does the rest... with a vengeance, and has a large dose of woodcarving ‘philosophy’.  Maybe I’m getting ‘artsy-fartsy’ (or more likely just ‘old and crotchety’),  but a pure step by step woodcarving ‘how-to’ doesn’t automatically make it to the personal library anymore.  Now it’s got to be a good ‘read’ too, and “Elements” has some gems like... wait a bit... I’ll find it... Ha! here it is; In his lead-in paragraph to Chaptor 10, ‘The Returning’, he talks of a re-occurring  vision for a carving project and says, “I know it is a good habit to jot down ideas, catching them like slippery fishes as they swim through our heads”.  It might be just a psychological imbalance on my part (or too many hours on the Thruway), but I thought that was a fun sentence to read.

Chapters 3-12 are titled after the projects, such as ‘Ikaras’, ‘Hands’, ‘Frog’, and ‘Shirt’ (what is with carving hanging laundry lately?). Each also has a subtitle which explains what the project will illustrate, such as ‘Drawing’, ‘Modeling’,  ‘Joining Wood’, and ‘Sources of Inspiration’.  The final to chapters profile other woodcarvers.  Chapter 13 is Gino Maestro(1915-1995) who was Chris Pye’s teacher/mentor.  Chapter 14 covers Tilman Riemenschneider(1460-1531).  There is a photo of a carving by Gino Maestro depicting a patched St. Francis of Assisi playing a violin.  The pose is so perfect, and the closed eye expression so bliss filled, that it takes you several more scans to realize that his ‘bow’ is actually a tree branch, and his violin only a slightly larger tree branch.  The short version:  On a scale of one to five stars, give it a ‘five’.  My favorite chapters so far:  “Holding Methods”, “Drawing”, “Modeling”,  and “Sources of Inspiration”.  It’s a good carving book and a good ‘read’.


I visited the Onondaga Woodcarver’s annual show at Beaver Lake Nature Center.  The Nature Center is a little west of Baldwinsville.  It is a well run, compact show with about 15 carvers.  Buck Run was there with a smaller display, but still large enough to have an angel carving book that Melissa wanted.  Two wood suppliers were there, Loon Lagoon  and  a new one, Lakeshore Hardwoods.  I ‘scored’ my largest piece of butternut ever at the Lakeshore booth, 6”x10”x 35”.  Have no idea what I’m carving from it, just going to find someplace in the shop and marvel at it for a while.  It was $3.08 a board foot, so I’ll let you do the math as a homework assignment.  It had a ‘twin’ that I left behind, and another piece that would have made an excellent fireplace mantle.  Needless to say I exhausted my discretionary funds for the remainder of the year.  This chunk probably won’t be something  that gets carved by our 2001 show, but there is that monster piece of butternut I bought from Walt LeClair a couple of shows back that has ideas that have percolated just long enough (‘We will carve no wood before it’s time’). 

Among the carvers at the Onondaga show were: George Farrell Jr., carver of wooden dolls with a fully articulated fisherman; Michael Sadkin, liberator of woodspirits which get more alive every year I see him; Newt and Ann Allen of “Feathers N’ Such” with their cedar waxwings that I try hard not to drool on; and our friend (and club member) Gerry Shook, former owner of Buck Run and waterfowl carver extraordinaire.  Here are some URLs I grabbed for you web surfers:

  • “Feathers N’ Such”    -                             
  • “One-of-a-kind Articulated Wooden Dolls” -
  • “Lakeshore Hardwoods”   -                 
  • “Michael Sadkin: Liberator of Woodspirits” -
  • “ Loon Lagoon Carving Woods ”  -                             

Hey!  See you all at the meeting.  Don’t forget the earplugs for this months program!

Full of it, as usual,
-Mike Bloomquist->