Thursday, July 23, 2015

Grandpa Nils Wins at National Exhibition of Folk Art

My figure carving entry entitled "There is a Better Way" won a First Place in the wood working division  at the National Exhibition of Folk Art in the Norwegian Tradition.  The event was held this past month at the Vesterheim Norwegian American Museum in Decorah, IA.  The  figure was carved from a block of  4 X 6 basswood, and it earned the three points needed for me to become a winner of a Gold Medal.

Visit  to see a complete list of winners.

Nils Langum was the Grandfather of my Grandmother, Nettie (Rogen) Bortnem.  At age 25 he immigrated to America with his brother Andreas and eventually settled with his wife Karina on 80 acres of land about twenty miles north of Decorah, IA.

According to Our Nordic Heritage, a family history written by Mervin Langum, grandson of Nils, "Nils Langum invented and had patented the first grain harvester.  He was offered $18,000 for the patent, but declined, hoping for a better offer.  In the meantime the McCormick harvester came out with a similar model with modifications that ended his chance of a lifetime."

The original patent model for the Langum Reaper was handed down to Mervin's brother, Nathan, and was finally donated to the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah.  There it remains, at last sighting, in a glass case on the third floor of the Old Mill.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Celebrating the Stars and Strips

Perhaps in a time when even the flag of the United States of America is being scorned by some who probably refer to themselves as citizens, the flag carving project for our last meeting could not have been more appropriate.

The idea was suggested by our devoted secretary, Evelyn Huntimer, and she provided patterns and samples of work she had done.  Our president, Derek Boekoff, provided basswood cut outs in various sizes as well as how-to-do tips and techniques.

It was a fun and surprisingly challenging project--especially for some members who had never experienced carving the back and forth folds of flowing banners or drapery.  There was a question about how to divide a space into thirteen stripes of identical width.  Roger Coon, one of our new members, suggested spotting the lower edge of the blue rectangle just over half way down and get the correct stripe width by dividing just the six stripes below.

Painting (or carving) the stars was another problem.  Evelyn found a star shaped paper punch at Hobby Lobby, which she used to make a stencil from card stock.  But the flags in various sizes also need stars of like various sizes.  Making a stamp from a wine bottle stopper might work for the larger flags, but not the smaller one I worked on.  When all else fails. a tiny brush and a steady hand will get the job done!

Happy Independence Day!  (Assuming it will not be ruled out as being offensive to some people...)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In Memory of William J. Slater

My first encounter with the South Dakota Woodcarvers was in 1982 at the New Town Mall (now called Empire East). Several members of the club had set up displays of their work in the hall way.  At that time I considered myself as sort of a "closet carver", thinking that if folks knew I liked to spend my spare time tinkering and whittling with wood, I should probably be in an institution for the mentally challenged.

Soon after that, I attended my first meeting of the club at the home of Bill Slater, who was living with his lovely wife, Barb, at 3303 S. Garfield Ave, here in Sioux Falls.  Although I was a bit shy show off my meager attempts at wood carving, I brought along a couple of things I had made.  Bill's comment about me "having enough talent to be scary", was probably the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to me.

Thank you, Bill, for many years of comradeship, friendship, and political correctness!

Miller Funeral Home

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Pelican Project

Bring your whittling knife and palm V tool to carve a miniature pelican at our Third Saturday Meeting, May 16th.

 Basswood blanks and weathered bases will be available.  Options for building your own realistic miniature bird feet will be a topic for discussion, and I will demonstrate one method using copper wire, tin, and solder.  

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Cedar Bed Posts Done and Delivered

The carving of four chiefs, Chief Joseph, Sitting Bull, Geronimo, and Red Cloud have finally been completed on the cedar logs that will serve as posts for a bed in the master bedroom of what must be South Dakotas's most well-built and amazing log house.  If you keep your eye peeled to toward the south as you travel west on I 90, you can see this log mansion as you pass Humbolt.  This marvelous construction began 16 years ago, and I felt very privileged to get a tour of all three levels.  I will try to describe some of the details at our meeting, April 25th.