Totem carvings of the American Northwest natives is an interesting subject from an anthropological perspective. The styles, subjects and myths associated with totems as an area of study led to carving them for fun. Totem carving itself was crucial to developing skills in carving. Rendering forms within the confines of the tapered cylindrical shape of a log is limiting, which contributes to define or determine the expression of the totems. Each totem in the native traditions is stylized and varies between the cultural groups.
My emulation of the native art form was an early focus of my carving and they are popular with customers. Now days I try to emphasize and develop my own styles and subjects, but totems might be produced on commission. Totem designs are typically personalized for a particular person or purpose.
This commission depicts Frog (with fingers crossed for good luck) on top of Bald Eagle, a modification of the traditional Sea Hawk. Frog represents running fresh water, cleansing and metamorphosis. Eagle holds Salmon signifying prosperity with Beaver at the bottom. Beaver represents hard work and family values. In his beak, Eagle hold a Copper of Raven and Eagle which is represents the “Love Birds”.
Set of 3 ‘peeler cores’ depict Salmon, Uncle Sam and Raven. 4 inch diameter 8 ft. long.
Thunderbird hunts Whale. 4 x 4 redwood stands 18 inches. T-Bird holds a Copper with the fleur de lis as this piece was customized for the Frenchman.
Raven brought Sun to the world making it habitable for mankind.
Uncle Sam on Bald Eagle cut from 4 x 6 x 8ft. pt lumber is a hose pole in my garden. Beaver on the bottom for hard work and family. Eagle hold the (half) Moon totem which i developed.
Rainbow Trout in vinyl for my boat bow.
These carvings derive from my "fusion" of Northwest native totem fish features including bones and internal organs with the brighter colors seen with Mexican tourist trade carvings.
Interest in architecture and construction led to numerous carvings of buildings, many of 'timber framed' / 'Elizabethan' / 'Black Forest' types. Also representations of the 'western frontier' and the British style 'stone bothy' have been carved.
A fun expression for me are figurines of people as caricatures. Many have been along the lines of the "Tommyknockers" which are the mythical spirits who live in the mines and were brought to America during the heyday of the Comstock Lode by Cornish miners.
Driftwood can be fun. A driftwood carving will always evoke memories of the shoreline or beach, the water and the experiences associated with collection of the raw material.
It is best when the image reveals itself from the shape that was formed in nature. In fact this is required or the piece of wood does not get worked. Many times I knew what needed to be carved at first glance at a piece of driftwood.
Less cutting and greater retention of the original shape makes for the best driftwood carving.
Great pleasure can be derived from bird watching and the study of the avian inhabitants of our world. It can be a mental challenge or an easy-going pass time. Getting out for a walk or a challenging field trip are enhance by watching for birds.
titled Archaeopteryx and Descendant,
this piece won "best 3D in show"
2014 Juried show at C.A.L.
Long Billed Curlew
Yellow Legged Sandpiper
Sticks come in a variety of sizes and shapes from the diminutive hardware store paint sticks up to large tree parts. Grouped here with the fun little paint sticks are walking sticks, canes and a cudgel.
Troll Bridge - pine about 8 inches - 2007
RhiOctaPedaNocerous - pine with walnut inserts
Alien female Madame Piggie dresses for the gala ball
some unreal creatures
Mr. Head Cheese the HexaPedaPorcus - redwood about 3 in.
Gremlin of redwood for holding Business Cards
Koa Kahuna about 6 x 8 x 2 inches. Hawaiian Koa with sapwood and knot is now a bookend.
A recent commission; humpback breaching in mahogany, ebony eyes, with galvanized finish nails and yarn.
Bear Stick (detail)
Attempts at 'realistic' representations of extinct creatures.
Carving stone as a recent activity.
Soapstone seal and bear with Zuni feature. . . more to come
Knives and Tools
My first wharncliffe carving knife quickly became a favorite. Just to enhance the grip I hacked some cuts in the wooden handle. Later, as the idea to carve handles developed, my original hack job was transformed into the newt.
Later developments include numerous Celtic Knot handles.
The short handled Adze is my version of a standard totem pole carving tool. Originally with stone blades, modern native carvers make their own adzes with steel blades. Mine uses an old chisel set in a branch from one of my apple trees with twine.
The Hele "Scandi" knife was quite a chore. A friend gave me the blade which was then laminated with silver cut and pounded from a couple 1 ounce coins, ebony, ivory and mahogany.
multiple hardwoods and Italian marble top surface.
Cherry wood quilt rack.
Dense, nice old growth redwood salvage is transformed into this set of garden furniture.
"Bunkhouse Ironing Board" with apple and pear branches. The clear pine top is joined with walnut wedges into the fruit wood miters.
Plant stand of multiple hardwoods; Italian marble top
Timber framed “Dragon Bench” of 9 x 9 douglas fir old barn beams.
Maple quilt rack.
yard furniture set of old growth reclaimed redwood.
All materials are legally obtained - salvaged piano keys and other pieces sold on the open market by native Alaskans.
Scrimshaw is not been promoted due to serious legitimate issues concerning endangered species and my production has declined in recent years.
Realistic fish carvings are created out of an interest in game fishing and snorkeling in the tropics.
the Ornate Butterfly Fish
The Northern Pike ventures into assemblage with the use of copper for the fins and has ebony inserts for the eyes.
(This piece won 'First in Show 3D' at the
Coastal Arts League 2015 Juried Show)
Humu humu nuku nuku apua'a
also called the Painted Triggerfish
and some scrimshaw piano keys....
Note: one of these is given away any time you take me out fishing on your boat !