Mohawk Valley Art & Woodcarving Association

November 2000

"It seems I'm unable to explain my lack of brevity, no matter how many words I use." 
    -- Kevin Sorbello

Well, That explains a lot.  It seems I’m not alone with my affliction <grin>.  A couple quickies from the meeting minutes, and then we’ll get to the good stuff.  First off, the minutes are in error, and it’s my fault.  I asked for a volunteer to cover the Christmas party in my absence, and George Hallenbeck was super to volunteer, but sorry George, it was a false alarm.  The planets aligned, the  heavens opened,  and the week long meeting that was to tear me away from that blessed culinary event... got postponed!  Happy Day!  I get to cover the party in the flesh.  So Tammy,  there’s a small correction to the minutes, but I’m not going to bother you with it on Dec 5th ‘cause that will slow the business part of the meeting down, and that means less party time.  You all caught that date right?  Doesn’t matter, you’ll see it again later.  Be alert this time!  While we’re on the topic (the party... not being alert), Kay Borst will be in charge of the food list.  She had the sign up sheet at the meeting and you can call her at 355-2933.


We’ve talked here before about Sister Mary Ellen and the great work she’s doing at the Provincial House teaching the Sisters there the fine art of woodcarving and other woodcrafts.  Walt LeClair, who volunteers time there, talked about their need for a dust collection system.  He volunteered to research prices and made a motion for the club to contribute up to $500.00 for the system.  Carol Ayers, who also spends time there, seconded and it was voted on and approved.  Hmmm, motion and second both made by Provincial House volunteers.  Folks, this may have been an inside job... we probably won’t know until the dust settles.  Regardless, when the vote went down it was unanimous... well except for our ‘naysayer’, and I believe that was only tradition.  Club moments like that make it real easy to explain why the Oneida county contingency makes the pilgrimage every month...


Book Review

I was in Borders the other day and found a woodcarving book I didn’t expect.  This may not sound like much, but it is to anyone who realizes what a woodcarving book horse I am.  Most new books I find have been anticipated for months, and that’s exactly how long I have been haunting the book stores until it arrives.  Anyway, so this one caught totally by surprise.  My wife was so shacked that she forced me to buy it.  Yeah, and it wasn’t even my Birthday!  The book?  Oh yeah!  it was High-Relief Carving by William J. Schnute.  The book is a nicely done softcover published by Sterling Publishing.  Bill Schnute is a full time, California wood sculpture who established his studio/shop in 1947. The book is filled with examples of his work in the form of doors, signs, and architectural murals and details.  If the  book were just a showcase for his work it would be worth the $14.95 price just to get your own creative juices flowing, but wait! There’s more! After describing his shop, where I almost put the book down overwhelmed by jealousy, he has chapters on design, pattern making, gluing up wood, wood drying, and using colored stain. The layout of the subjects seem to be a bit random, like you visited his shop and they came up in this order during an afternoon’s conversation. Tools and sharpening appears in the middle of the book.  Despite the loose arrangement of the topics, they seem to flow easily from one to another and the book does not suffer.  Because scale and complexity of the projects, this probably rates as a book for intermediate to advanced relief carvers and  I would rank it four stars on a five star scale. I’ll bring my copy to the Christmas Party (Dec 5th) so you can check it out yourself. 


Remember the Santa Carving contest we talked about? $600 worth of Woodcraft merchandise, a Harold Enlow seminar, a feature in Woodcarver Illustrated and a Dec 2nd deadline?  Maybe we didn’t here, but I mentioned it at a meeting.  Anyway, my entry is coming along nicely.  It has one of those “good Karma” feels that you get with ‘certain’ projects and I might even make the deadline. Unfortunately my other carving projects are suffering.  I’ll probably show up to a Dec 2nd- 3rd craft show Yvonne and I do with only my photo album!  The other bad news is, my Santa will be in Philadelphia when we have the Christmas Party (Dec 5th) so I’ll have to bring pictures.  This is probably just my usual cockiness but I have a good feeling about this piece.  Still, if that guy from N. J., Dennis Thornton, enters a Santa at the Phily shop, I’m dead meat.  What you didn’t hear about Dennis? You know, he’s that woodcarver who has been threatening to pull “a Pete Ortel” (win best-of-show with a caricature)  at our show the last few years.  Well , recently he’s been voted in as a member of the Caricature Carvers of America.  Considering the pieces he’s carved over the couple-three years we’ve seen him, the CCA probably had no choice!  Congrats Dennis! Hmmmmm,  wonder if CCA membership disqualifies him from competition?  I can only hope!  OK, that’s enough filler.  Here’s some contributions from other members this month.


Show & Tell
-George Hallenbeck

I've been remiss in writing club news this last few weeks but our Nov. monthly meeting was worth writing about.  Many Carvings were placed on the lunch counter and great ones at that. 

John Raucci's entrance into chainsaw carving was a classic!  A 24” bear w/fishing pole was one of the best small bears I have seen.  The bear was accompanied by a “Tired Santa” all tuckered out and empty bag!  John’s creative talents are exhibited well.

Harold Kaltenbach’s Nativity Set could compare with any other!  Nicely done and a great finish.  It will be a happy X-mas for someone in the Kaltenbach family.

Ev Botsford had his impressive ruffed grouse on display.  No one makes feathers like Everet!  He’s really for the “birds”.  Prize winning grouse for sure!

Carl Borst showed a dog carved for a friend from a photo of the dog.  The carving makes him look like a movie star!  The dog, not Carl!  Expert carving in black and white!  Carl also showed a loon plaque 24” long.  It will look great over an entrance door!

Doris Seeb is working on  a full size Mallard. She is power carving the feathers and is doing a really professional job. It will look great when finished.

Tammy Hanson, our secretary and a beginning carver, did a Santa Claus bust 10” high and a good one!  She won’t be a beginner long!  Fine job Tammy.

Lou Carusone was working on a carving of his daughter in graduation garb.  What a nice idea.  Lou, you better make that face look as pretty as your daughter!

Mike Bloomquist had a “Back Packing Santa” displayed, Quite a novel carving but our Mike is a novel guy!  In fact he writes a novel every month!  Mike doesn’t get enough credit for his monthly novel so thanks a load Mike.


Thursday November 16th - 21 carvers in attendance

John Raucci working on 2 carvings.  The look like little people but they haven’t told John what they want to be yet.  Maybe next week.

Ev Botsford, exhausted after his Ruffed Grouse, is cooling down on a Santa Claus, just a hanging around Santa!

Nelson Downs has a batch of gnomes on the table and a “pretty” little Troll.  She’s a cutey and she didn’t come from under the bridge!

Ed Bojarczuk showing his cowboy, nicely done caricature finished in oil paint.  He’s not an ugly cowboy; he just has an oily appearance.  Nice going Ed, an oily cowgirl next?


From Sister Mary Ellen

To all my friends, I thank you from the very bottom of my heart for the donation to purchase a dust collector for our CSJ Woodshop.  When Walt first told me that he had asked for a donation of $500.00 for a dust collector I was overwhelmed and cried.  My community gave me this opportunity to set up the shop so the sisters could use their many gifts and talents..  Although we have scheduled class on Monday evening and Wednesday morning, sisters show up every day.  They are carving such beautiful pieces.  Jean Aldous has taught us how to make puzzles, tree decorations and bird feeders on the scroll saw.  We will be learning to make pens and candle holders on the lathe.  And the best part of all is that these women from ages 55-97 are having fun.  Some days I just sit back and watch them take such pride in their work.  And, they didn't think they could do it....

    When I met you for the first time at a Thursday meeting, I felt so strongly that God had given me such a special gift.  I hold you each near and dear in my heart and prayers.  Although I don't come to the Thursday meeting and don't always make the monthly meeting just  know....are you listening.... just know that you are tucked in my prayer each day. 

Thanks again and again. 
Sister Mary Ellen

If you would like to see my sisters who work in the CSJ
Woodshop go to:


Well that’s it for this month. Keep them edges sharp, the chips high, and bring place settings to the Christmas Party (Dec 5th)!

Full of it as usual, 
 Mike Bloomquist