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  I am a 'born here' native of Central NY spending most of my life in the peripherals of Utica.  Since leaving college, I've lived and worked in Rome, NY, which is located between Utica and Syracuse, and just south of the Adirondacks. Yvonne and I were married while I was still completing a degree at SUNY/Oneonta. I graduated and we moved to Rome where I started my career as a Physics teacher in 1979.  During the next six years I picked up part-time careers in home repair, wallpapering, coaching football, and fatherhood (two daughters, Laura and Melissa... Ok, that ones FULL time).  Also, during this time I picked up computers, almost as a hobby, and applied it to my Physics teaching.  Other hobbies at the time were fishing and woodworking. 

   Since a teacher's salary could not keep me in fishing equipment at the time, I learned how to carve my own rapala type fishing lures with x-acto knives.  My first attempt was ugly, but caught an 8lb 11oz brown trout from a small lake that should not have been able to produce a fish that size.  You might think that would have launched my woodcarving, but it didn't.  I tried a couple of times to carve other objects, but found the x-acto knives inadequate.  I bought a bench knife and a stone at a Syracuse woodworking show.  Back then the show was sharing space with the Onondaga Woodcarving Club.  No matter how hard I worked that knife on the stone, it was always too much work to carve with it.

   In 1985 I took my computer knowledge and science background and went to work for a contractor to the local Air Force research lab.  Thanks to the new salary level I was able to indulge in another interest of mine, photography.  I was still interested in carving, and at one point purchased a 3"x4"x3' beam of basswood.  All I accomplished was insulting a couple of God's creations (specifically horses and wood ducks).  God must have forgiven me though, since a friend of mine put me onto a video series by Rick Butz.  The first video taught me a couple of critical and normally bloodless knife cutting techniques.  Something else that clicked was the audio part of this show, since you could hear the knife do this whispering slice through the wood.  Hey, you mean that crunching sound I get isn't natural?  The next video was on sharpening techniques (like I said, God forgave me). Oh, after stone sharpening there's something called honing...  Now woodcarving was fun.

   Well by 1990 my career at the lab is starting to take me on travel a lot, so to keep my sanity I start packing a small tool roll and a couple of project blanks.  My projects are, at that time, mostly by Harley Refsal, and I'm really interested in the Scandinavian flat plane style since I'm half-Swedish (My paternal grandfather emigrated from Sweden when he was eight).  Then in 1994 I visit this woodcarving show/competition sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Art and Woodcarving Association.  The variety is incredible.  In addition to the usual awesome songbirds, ducks, loons, and raptors there were carousel horses, chip carving, fish, furniture, bats, and dragons.  For two hours I wandered around.  When my mouth wasn't hanging open, I harassed all the displaying carvers with questions.  Then I took a lunch break, went back and did it again.  Woodcarving went to the level of addiction that year.

   That same year, Yvonne decided to try scroll sawing together with decorative painting.  Together with my daughters who were doing beadwork and dream catchers, we hit a few local craft shows as Bloomquist's Creations.  I did not sell a single carving until our third and final show that fall, but a woodcarving inventory was built up.  At the last show I sold two pieces, bartered for a stain glass cardinal, and made new friends.  One of those friends introduced me to a local bookstore owner who was born in Iceland.  Thorunn, owner of Thorunn's Books, liked the Scandinavian style of my carvings, and she has been selling my pieces and giving encouragement ever since.  With all this carving activity, it still didn't occur to me to participate in the 1995 MVAWA show until it was almost too late.  I got a 2nd and 3rd that year at the intermediate level.  It was one of the best weekends I can remember.  I attended a non-competition show in Morrisville, Vt. that year also.  There I met the author of Tom Wolfe Carves Dragons.  It's pretty timely since I have my first dragon there, carved from the same book.  As a bonus I sell the dragon for $500.  Truthfully, Yvonne and I thought that price would guarantee its return home with us.  My younger daughter, Melissa, bought herself a new knife, and a couple of small, beginner projects at the same show.  She wants me to teach her to carve.  That December I started teaching beginning carvers at a local stamp store (Sweethearts Stamps).  Melissa makes a great TA (teaching assistant).  Back at the MVAWA show in 1996 my table had four blue ribbons.  The best one belongs to my daughter.

   In 1997 I moved myself to the advanced level thinking that "running with the big dogs" would give me a push.  Yvonne and Melissa kept watching the judging from outside windowed room, and running back to report. 
"Hey Dad, your gun box got a blue, and I think my goldfish got a red"
"Nice going kid.  Good start for your first year in adult/beginner."
"Dad, I see a red ribbon on your abstract, but I don't think your tomte placed"
"Super, we got three ribbons, and we both bumped up a level this year. Not bad."
"Honey, they just moved your gun box off to the side with a bunch of other blue ribbon winners."
"Oh God, Hon. I don't think I want to hear any more.  It must be in the run for best of class"
"Honey, it's got another ribbon on it."
"Honey, it's got ANOTHER ribbon on it."
They awarded me best of show that year.  It took several months before my head fit comfortably into the minivan again.  I haven't been able to repeat on that show... yet. Shortly after that show I became a member of MVAWA so I could get a monthly 'fix'. Melissa joined too, and together with a carving friend of mine we do the two-hour, round trip pilgrimage to Amsterdam, NY on the first Tuesday of every month. During the course of 1998 I did two programs for the club. I point out that there were two programs to promote the logic that once might have been a group blunder, but since they had advance warning for my second program and still came to the meeting...

Later I hooked up with a second club closer to home in Clinton, NY. It was a fairly small, loose group. We've grown a little, become semi-organized (nobody is in a hurry to 'organize' any more than size dictates), and actually came up with a name. We're the Erie Canal Woodcarvers.

More recently I continue to teach beginner woodcarving with Melissa as TA, keep receiving commissions here and there (Melissa is too), and last June I joined an artists' co-op in Old Forge, NY called Artworks. I have been invited to give woodcarving demonstrations here and there. If you ever get a chance to demo a talent at any elementary school, grab it. You get reminded what a 'gee-whiz' age that is, and it's really worth the time. Well that about covers it for woodcarving and me. I've got to get back to some projects. See ya.

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