Mohawk Valley Art & Woodcarving Association

December 2000

"Thanks to photography you can browse through time and space to view a vast range of carved work.  Don’t be overawed by these illustrious names and works, or feel you are in competition with them; just breath them in and have joy."
                                                                                        -- Chris Pye

The quote above was from “Elements of Woodcarving” which we reviewed here a while ago.  I told you it was a good read.  Bet you thought I didn’t really read these carving books, huh!  Ironically, we’re going to give you all a break from the book reviews this month.  I’ve got new ones coming, but Santa hasn’t delivered them yet. 

Gotta tell ya!  “Yours truly” truly had a close call this month.  It seems I recycled my notebook.  Yeah! THE notebook, the one I jot down all the great ‘material’ you folks give me at the meetings.  Granted some of you contribute more grist-for-the-mill than others, but that’s another issue.  Back to my dilemma. So, where are all the names that were placed lovingly next to the appropriate Christmas carvings this past December 5th.  All the those wonderful carvings that I wanted to describe completely from photographs I took.  Names that were carefully matched to carvers in notes that George Hallenbeck helped me compile.  Carvings and names meticulously paired so that proper blame... err... credit could be given to the rightful carver.  Hah!  They were jammed safely in  my camera bag, written on the back of a recipe for bread pudding... double bonus!  George also told me who did the recipe, but... um... I... uh... forgot.  The Club Christmas party was a  big, big success.  According to Carl Borst, attendence was a record high dispite the nasty weather.  The single, sad point was several members were unable to make it due to real nasty weather around Latham.  Many of these folks, including Sr Mary Ellen and Carol Ayers called in to apologize and wish all ‘Happy Holidays’.  Personally, given a choice between you folks making it to future events or being a highway statistic, the unanimous vote would be for the first.  Even the ‘naysayer’ would have to break with tradition on that vote!


So, here’s me doing a George Hallenbeck impersonation with George’s help:

First up is Fred Jenzer who brought 5 beautifully carved love spoons.  Three spoons had a leaf motif; one oak leaf and acorn, one with maple leaves, and one magnolia (I believe).  There was one with a handle that traveled up from the bowl, weaving back and forth, forming into a heart at the top.  The final spoon had a G-Clef handle.  If it's from the book I suspect, Fred did a wonderful re-design which strengthened the handle.  Whoops!  Make that six spoons.  The one on the end is a dark wood and thanks to my poor photography we’re going to have to guess that it’s a flower motif.  Safe bet it’s as nice a job as the rest Fred.

Before we go any further... if I miss-identify anything here,  it has nothing to do with the workmanship, just poor judgment or a poor picture on my part.

From Dick Moran we had Santa and Mrs. Clause on the table.  Both were David Sabol style.  Mrs. Clause had a casserole and Santa was lying down on the job with his belly exposed as well as his derriere (that's French for 'but').  From the look of his eyes I'll bet it was Dec 26th and Santa was coming down from a cookie 'high'.

From ‘Doc’ Cummings, there were two pig bookends and a gingerbread man ornament.  Usually when I see pigs I think of Carl Borst... um... cause, you know, he carves pigs.  Carl, looks like you got some competition in the pig carvin' department.

Next on the table was a trio of Santa’s by George Hallenbeck.  First was a Dave Sabol, leiderhosen wearin’, beer stein totin’, happy dancin’ Santa.  The second had a jump rope of jingle bells and this wonderful belly laugh that I’ve gotta try to carve sometime. Finally my favorite of the set, he had a Santa on cross country skis.  Santa had a blue robe, which I hear is traditional for a Swiss St. Nicholas, and lots of detail.  There was a bird perched on his shoulder, a pipe in his mouth, an evergreen in one hand and a rope attached to a sled in the other.  Just MTCW, but that’s real nice work George.

There was a gorgeous relief carving by Monte Foster done in walnut.  The scene was the hay loft of a barn complete with loose hay, sleeping cats, a split wood pitchfork, tack for a workhorse, and a hobby horse made from a barrel with a dust feather tail.  The barn beam detail divided the picture into smaller segments and the carving was beautifully surrounded by carved oak leaves.  Many, many oak leaves.

Walt LeClair brought a graceful, beautifully finished, goose carved from butternut.  Now, I'm a sucker for butternut, but given the shape and finish, this could have been carved from construction grade spruce and still been an A+ sculpture.

Another trio of Santas by John Raucci were at the same end of the table as Fred Jenzer’s spoons.  Right about here is where I get this terminal case of carver’s jealousy, but this year I’m going to ‘just breath them in and have joy’ (and hope I live long enough to carve at this level).   John had a butternut Santa head ornament in the shape of an icecicle.  The facial expression is great, but we’re back to ‘poor judgement on my part’.  I’m torn between ‘he’s just finished the last delivery of the evening and is yawning’ or ‘he’s singing a Christmas Carol and is in the middle of belting out the ‘Oh’ in “Oh Come All Yee Faithful’’.  So  sue me, and flip a coin.  It’s a great ornament either way.  The second is a ‘little guy’ Santa, painted and holding his bag up in front of him... this time the bag isn’t empty.  The last was a butternut Santa, knelt down hugging a young dog.  There’s so much expression and quiet feeling in the piece that it writes a story just looking at it.

Jim Harvey, Mr. “I’ve studied with Harley Refsal seven years in a row”, brought a Santa holding a latern and a Christmas tree.  Sorry... jealousy relapse there... <deep breath>!  Hey Jim!  Your Santa definitely has that scadinavian flat plane ‘thing’ going for it, but it’s also showing an individual style of your own.  Absolutely a good thing... nice work. 

Seems that good things came in threes this night.  We have two more trios of Santas.  Harold Kaltenbach is working on a pose where Santa’s head is turned slightly to one side which adds a lot of interest.  One of the three he brought is holding a latern.  ‘Three’ is actually a small number for Harold.  In Oneida County we call him the “human duplicarver” because his new designs usually come out in batches of ten or more.

The last Santa threesome is by Pieter Paulding, and they had a variety of poses, sizes, and face styles.  One was holding an evergreen, and another was holding his sack of goodies.  Common to all three were eyes neatly done with simple knife cuts that threw shadows that ‘suggested’ eyes with no trouble or doubt.  The style was very ‘flat plane’ which I’m biased towards.  Hey! You been hangin’ around Jim Harvey a lot Pete, or has he been hangin’ around you?  Colors were all nicely done in stains that let the wood grain show through, even in photos.

We had a large, egg shaped Santa from Jane Harvey.  Obviously she’s a decorative painting ‘pro’.  When I say ‘egg shape’ we’re talking ostrich plus size!  This beauty can be seen and appreciated from the other side of a large room.  The brush strokes that make up the beard were really something to see.

Also on the table were two Rick Butz designs.  One was the Adirondack hermit, Alva Dunning, complete with dog and rifle.  A very nice carving job by Lou Carasone.  The second was a Santa with pipe and Adirondack pack basket by Steve Forsthoffer who did a real nice job on the back pack texture.  I think this is the first Club Christmas Party for both.  Hopefully it’s the beginning of a long tradition.

Everett Botsford brought a unique and well done Santa with plaid knickers and a red vest.  It was obviously ‘best dressed’ of all the Santas present.

Chris Schmocker had a small tree covered with Santa head ornaments in the shape of crescent moons, and a very, very nice nativity set.  One of these days I’ll get my wife to come to this party... but I’m checking with Chris first to make sure he’s not bringing one of these nativities ‘cause I’ll never hear the end of it. 

Finally, most unique Christmas carving goes to Carl Borst who brought a Native American Flute.  Carl used the Ben Hunt instructions I passed out at the November program.  This seems a little ironic since, at my presentation, he and Ron Meyers were the two in the front row wearing the industrial grade ear protectors.  Carl claimed in an e-mail that his flute turned out looking great, but sounded like a kazoo.  The flute was beautiful, nice shape, nice finish, and the walnut grain was more spectacular than any I’ve crafted so far.  Well, anyway, I tweaked the ‘bird’ a little and it played fine.  It was a little soft, but that’s typical for a low voiced, large bore flute like his.  Gee Carl, I did say at the program that these were simple instruments that didn’t require a lot of natural musical ability to play.  Guess there’s exceptions to every rule <grin>!  Seriously Carl, that’s one helluva flute for a first attempt.  It even had these two ‘inlays’ on the bottom, laid out in a ‘interesting’ assymetrical pattern.

If anyone else takes a run at constructing there own flute, and needs some help or advise, call me, e-mail me, or bring it to a meeting.  I promise I won’t review you here in the newletter.  Unless, of course, you were one of the ‘others’ wearing earmuffs last November.


Before we leave Carl Borst, you should know that he had some seriously bad medical news recently.  Good News though!  From information I get from him and others, well informed, the prognosis is very, very good.  Early detection and treatment gets a large amount of credit, and it looks like he’s going to be with us for quite a while still.  Good thing!  Some of us have not even come close to evening the score with him.  Not only that, but he gives me some of my best newsletter ‘material’.  Very good news Carl, keep it coming!  You know that N.A. flutes have healing powers.. especially when you make them yourself... Practice Carl! Practice! Practice!


Ron Meyers get’s congratulations for a ‘Lifetime Membership’ award.  This was given in the form of a plaque for being one of the club’s ‘founding members’, contributing time and talents, and upholding certain ‘traditions’ all along the way. 
Ron’s been a cornerstone from the beginning?  Is that like, I don’t know, back before chisels and mallets?  Next time you see him, give him a congratulations and a ‘thank you’.  Thank you Ron, and congrats.

The Thursday Report
by George Hallenbeck

Thursday    Dec. 7th  2000   - 21 Carvers in attendance

Just heard that Peter Paulding is setting up the 3rd annual Soap Carving session at the Senior Day Care Center at Amsterdam Memorial Hospital.  He will be accompanied by John Raucci, Joe Rusik, Jim Harvey and Mike Fields.  They will be instructing some 20 patients in the art of soap carving.  They use plastic knives and carve a “small person” of their choice from a bar of Ivory soap.  This is a very worth while exercise and our members are to be congratulated.  The date is Thursday Jan.11th.  Carvings are displayed and other club members are invited to attend and help instruct.  Pieter is always ready and willing to help others and we thank him.  He is a credit to the Mohawk Valley Carvers, nice
going Pete!

Mike Fields displaying his fly fisherman, just in time for “ice fishing”!  A really nice job, well detailed.  Goes well with all the fishing lures that Mike is noted for. 

Jim Harvey finishing up his Viking. (Minnesota?)  It really looks like an old time Viking except for the lovely pink cape!  Vikings ready to attack in a pink cape?!  Seriously, Jim is becoming a really classic Scandinavian carver.  Just goes to show you what attending 13 classes will do!

Carl Borst working on a Roman Soldier w/sword and shield, so realistic.  Nice to see Carl delving into Roman History.

Marcus Kruger again with a miniature!  This time a squirrel 3/4 inch high upright tail and a reindeer, a big guy 2” tall!  Our miniature man does himself proud!  How small can he go?!

Nelson Downs showing his (Pod ?) of dolphins, anyway...a lot of them!  Nicely done Nels. 

Ron Myers brought in a Swan? Goose? Natural finish small gouged feather simulation.  Very interesting piece.  I guess since it’s X-mass time we’ll call it a Goose!  His Goose is cooked anyway.- 


That's it for this month.  Now there's a whole month to build up your tolerance for 'next time'. Use it wisely ;-).

Full of it as usual, 
 Mike Bloomquist