Viking Wood Carvers Association
Newsletter February 2003

VIKING Chapter
Minneapolis,  Minnesota
Vol. 29  No. 1

· Bob Pitts
 (612) 722-0449

· Jim Ayers
 (612) 721-6074
· Myron Asper
 (952) 445-7274

· Jeff Lippka
· (952) 835-5127

· Myrtle Brandvold
    (952) 512-0073

· Jim Ayers
· Myron Asper

· Keith Fredrickson
· Leonard Kampa

· Carol “Swede” Bengtson
 Merle Erickson

FEBRUARY 10 Presentation-
Harley Schmitgen “Carving Eyes Demonstration”

The new and used tool sale starts at 6:30 PM followed by the regular business meeting at 7 PM. Our presenter, Harley Schmitgen from Blue Earth, Minnesota, is well known for his caricature relief carving work and is a member of CCA, (Caricature Carvers of America). He has a very relaxed style of instruction with a lot of “pent up humor”. His artistic expression is family based as his family has carved cemetery monuments for over a century. Harley will speak and demonstrate EYE CARVING techniques. Jim Ayers plans to have the video camera system up and running so the audience can see what Harley is doing more clearly. His presentation will involve a carve-in. The club (with Jim Abicht’s assistance) will provide everyone with a basswood blank (about 1x1x7 inches) which they will carve following Harley's instructions. Harley recommends that each member try to come with the following tools:

1. deep gouge (#11),small to med size
2. #9 gouge, about 1/2 inch wide
3. small gouge (1/8" or so)
4. small V tool
5. small carving knife

Many probably won't have all of these tools, but people should bring what they can and share. (Don’t forget to mark tools and sharpen them before the event). It should be an interesting evening. Jim might even bring a recording of Arvo Part (Estonian composer) to play as background. This will allow for relaxed cuts.

Note: This is an audience participation program!

2003 Annual Dues

They were due January 31. Please send your check for $15.00 to Myrtle Brandvold, 9607 Palmer RD, Bloomington, MN. 55437 or bring to the February meeting. Early payment of your dues greatly reduces the time needed to publish a roster. Last year it took 5 months to finalize a roster and arrange mailing to the membership. Let’s do better this year.

Minutes of January Meeting by Jeff Lipka

The meeting of January 13 was called to order by President Bob Pitts. There were 73 members and 3 guests (Louie Nelson, Bill Johander and Dave Bratrud) present. The Treasurer’s Report was submitted by Myrt Brandvold. The current balance is $3813.75. (Full report is found in this newsletter.) .

Pitts reiterated that the following candidates have been nominated and that additional names could be presented before the election which will take place at the beginning of the February meeting.The Nominating Committee has met and presented the following list of candidates.

President - Jim Forrey, Vice President - Jim Ayers(also arranges programs), Secretary - Nancy Dardis and Treasurer - Lew Forsmark

Dennis Mathiason announced that Russell Scott has volunteered to be the new newsletter editor, The group accepted this offer.

The Digital Camera Use Committee is exchanging ideas for the purchase and use of the digital camera. Ideas will be presented at the February meeting. Committee members are Russ Scott, Ken Peterson, Todd Moucha, and Mike Morson.

The VFW dinner was canceled. The $300 we paid them in lieu of rental was given as a gift to the VFW.

Dennis Mathiason presented two logos that had been produced for making 3 inch patches for caps, aprons, sweatshirts, etc. The Viking image was the same on each patch. However the name was NWCA-Viking Chapter on one and Viking Woodcarvers-Minnesota on the other. After considerable discussion as to the merits of each title a vote was taken as to which title would be used. The vast majority (>90 %) favored the Viking Woodcarvers-Minnesota designation. The logo will be prepared with this name and made available to the membership. During the discussion several points were made.

  1. The Viking club is not part of NWCA. Bill Smith indicated that about 1975 the group discontinued sending dues to NWCA.
  2. A show of hands indicates that approximately 75 % of club members are members of NWCA. The major benefit is the “Chip Chats” publication.
  3. There is still uncertainty as to what items the club will have produced for sale. (caps, aprons, shirts, etc.) This will be discussed again. Some expressed concern that we were ordering items that may not sell. (Ed Note. In November a motion was approved to purchase 25 caps with logo and 100 patches.)
  4. The logo will be produced with a six color layout. The club has a copy ready for reproduction.
  5. Preparation of the logo design cost $213.00
Dennis also presented a review of the new publication, “Carving magazine” The premier issue was sent to many carvers. The editor is Marnie Whillock, daughter of Ivan Whillock (Viking member and well - identified carver from Faribault, MN). As I stated at the meeting: This publication at present is better than “Carving Illustrated”. I think it is a publication well worth reading. $19.95 for 4 issues.

Vendors at the meeting were then identified. George Effrem has new books, John Krantz thanked the group for their support this past year and indicated he would miss the February meeting. Call him if you have some wood needs. Earl Suhrbier announced that he had a number of books and carving supplies at the meeting and Joe Jewitt indicated that he had wood available. Esther Allen announced that the Forest Lake group still had openings for the Dale Martin workshop in February. They will be carving a bison head at the Forest Lake Senior Center February 15,16 and 22, 23. Cost is $65.00. (Editor note: I have taken a class from Dale and can report that he is an excellent instructor.) Merle Erickson indicated that someone was needed to oversee the “used tool” sale table at this meeting. Three members were selling at this meeting.

The Business meeting was adjourned and “Show and Tell” presentations were made. See listing later in this issue. Coffee Break followed.


BALANCE - December 1, 2002      3328.03

EXPENSE -  Dec Newsletter            129.69
Name tags                                              9.99
Bank Fee                                                2.00

DEPOSITS                                          316.00

OVERALL BALANCE                     3813.75


First comment relates to our web site. It is available now and is a good place to visit if you want to see the carvings that were displayed at recent meetings. The Newsletter is also presented there. Once again the address for the site is:

Additional Thoughts on wood working publications and support.

If you started carving in the 1970’s you probably had less than 20 publications that you might readily find to pursue wood carving. Today there are over 500 and countless web sites. Many of these cover techniques limited to a focused pursuit, i.e. wood burning, power tool technigue, whittling, intarsia, relief, carving eyes, etc.) Thus a new carver faces a daunting task when it comes to acquiring information. If one is fortunate to meet a well - versed carver when first approaching the field the task of information retrieval can be greatly reduced. In the last 3 years I have purchased about 30 books and subscribed to 5 publications related to wood carving. I now possess only about 10 of the 30 books. I tossed many because the information contained in the book was very limited, distorted, biased or simply, poorly presented. Now I rely mainly on conversations with other wood carvers and sites on the web. We are very fortunate to have many well-informed carvers in this area. At the risk of forgetting someone permit me the leisure of identifying some Viking members that I have found to be very helpful. In alphabetical order:

Dick Allen - power sharpening and linkage to other carvers
Ivan Amman - intarsia
Jim Ayers - fan bird construction and spray techniques
Nancy Dardis - wood burning
Merle Erickson - safe tool handling technique
Walt Grittner - chip carving and “Scandinavian humor”
Duane Heng - tool sharpening
John Krantz - wood materials
Ken Peterson - probably knows where you can find a tool
John Sailor - European approaches to carving and finishing
Bill Smith - historical perspective
Ivan Whilloch - design, tool handling, education required

I am certain that all of us have developed a relationship that has helped us improve as a wood worker. As I indicated in an earlier editorial we should have a roster with a list of names and interests. All members would benefit.

At the beginning of the meeting in February we will have the election of new officers. It is also a time to thank the present officers (President Bob Pitts, Vice President Jim Ayers, Secretary Jeff Lippka, and Treasurer Myrt Brandvold) for their service these past three years. Don’t forget to personally thank these people for their efforts. Service work is often a thankless task. To these I say “ Many are called, but few are chosen.” Lest you think I am getting too scriptural in this salute let me restate this for Minnesotans who are not enjoying the cool portion of Minnesota weather. “Many are chilled, but few are frozen!”

This issue is my last as an editor. It has been fun, educational, and I have had an opportunity to meet many club members. I hope that you have found interesting reading in the issues that I have written. My intention when writing the editorial page has been to offer comments for you to think about. If my effort has resulted in catalyzing you to be more involved or to seek out more information concerning aspects of carving then I think I have achieved some success. As a professor, at the first lecture period, I always told students that my goal was not to bring them up to my level of understanding with respect to chemistry, but to catalyze them to think and improve their understanding so that in the end they had a better appreciation than mine. It was always gratifying to have these students come back later (in person or via mail) and let me know how successful they had become in pushing back the chemistry frontier.

But I digress too much. Let me now take this time to identify our new editor, Russ Scott. I have known Russ for nearly three years and have had an opportunity to watch his progress as a carver. He has come a long way from crude caricatures to female figures with good anatomy presented. Those who saw his carving of three females in a circle know what I am referring to. His interest in becoming a good recognized carver coupled with his computer skills will make an excellent combination for writing the newsletter and displaying the work of Viking carvers on the web site. Expect a lot of rewards as he introduces digital photography to display activities of the club. Finally, help him to identify what you want in a newsletter.

Another random thought. Why do we penalize (25 cents) members that attend meetings but do not bring an item for Show and Tell? Non-exhibitors have already made a commitment by coming to the meeting. Would it not be better to reward those who contribute to the education of others or simply drop the penalty?

And another. When I finally reviewed a copy of the Viking Constitution I found a number of minor and major inconsistencies with respect to current club operation. A committee should be formed to look at the document. Russ Scott will offer some ideas in future newsletters.

Finally, some practical ideas.
I have watched carvers on a number of occasions struggling to paint a carving. Too often they simply brush on paint that is too concentrated, opaque, or limited in spectral presentation. The latter refers to how a surface appears when light hits the surface. When light impinges on a surface, three events simultaneously happen: the radiant light is either absorbed by the surface material, transmitted through the surface, or reflected. Theoretically, an absolute black surface absorbs 100% of the light hitting the surface while an absolute white surface would reflect 100% of the light hitting the surface. It is virtually impossible to see these models, even in a sophisticated laboratory environment. Chemists and physicists have produced some very remarkable surface coatings that respond to various forms of radiation in ways that were unimagined only several decades ago. Let me give you an example I developed for interested children as to the merits of science education. I would come to the lecture wearing a white lab coat with a white rose boutonniere. Of course the children could not readily see the flower. With a “Don’t despair, your friendly chemist is here!” declaration I would (before their very eyes) make the flower appear to be red. In later years I became more patriotic and had the flower transition from red to white to blue. Ah so, the good ol’ days. So what is the point of this article?

What I would like to suggest is a different approach to painting that may make it easier to produce a surface with a panorama of colors. I recall overhearing Dale Martin explain to a student how to paint a bison’s hair as something like - “You will need some shades of brown, some blue, some orange, some white, or whatever it takes to make the hair appear as it does on a real bison.” For someone who has never painted this presents a major challenge. But the solution is to become the “happy painter’ - a splash of this, a splash of that”. REMEMBER THAT ART PROGRAM OF YESTERYEAR ON PUBLIC TV?

Here is a painting exercise for you to try. You will need several acrylic colors, a wax (carnauba or bee), some crayolas (wax base),some color pencils and a piece of basswood. A common brand of color (aquarelle) pencils is Bruynzeel. The small cartons have approximately 20 colors. The largest have 50 or more. A very useful acrylic color is Payne’s Grey, which has a blue tinge to it. This is used for the first coat of coloring to be applied in areas where there are creases in fabric, shoe edges, hair, between fingers and toes, and as a diluted wash around eye sockets and underneath the chin. As we age, our face develops a bluish cast - due to venal function? The latter should be construed as a WAG guess! In using the Paynes Grey make certain that you dilute it and if applied too thickly, wipe off the excess with a paper towel. If you don’t have much painting experience, let this first coat dry before proceeding with other coloring. Can you make a mistake here that you cannot recover from? ABSOLUTELY NO!

So, take a piece of scrap wood and gouge surface. Pretend that you are putting creases in a fabric or carving a hair pattern. The pattern is not critical. This is a practice piece. (Relax; hum a few bars of “Happy Days Are Here Again….” and begin. Paint the creases and hair with a random appearance. Avoid covering everything and make certain that you do not develop a defined coloring pattern. Try diluting some areas where you have applied too much color. Easy, right? Let Dry.

Now apply some other colors alongside and partially over these areas. For hair, try diluted burnt umber and maybe a splash of raw sienna. (Remember this is a practice piece.) For the clothing creases, try various colors in different areas. Red, blue, green, umber, etc.) Experiment. Repeat putting a third coat of color over a portion of the previously painted surface. Record what you have done so that you have a reference to help you when painting your carvings.
Then touch up the surface with the color pencils. Try different techniques - deliberate lines, and shading.
Now see what happens when you wax the dried surface. Polish with a soft cloth. The surface should take on a softer appearance.

What should you learn from this exercise? Surface color is not made up of one paint component if you want a visually pleasant appearance. When I paint a red coat on a Santa Claus I use Paynes Grey, several shades of umber, several reds, and highlighting with white or grey. When highlighting make certain that you have a reference point for the direction of light hitting a surface. I also consider where my carvings are going to be displayed when I select colors. Is it going in a bright or dimly lit room, on a wall or a table, above or below the spectators eye level? Will you always achieve raving success? Don’t count on it. Even the masters turned out some unattractive paintings as they developed their artistic expression.

FOR REFERENCE MATERIAL: Check art books at your local library dealing with acrylic and water color painting. You will find a lot of ideas to try. I will bring a carving to the February meeting that I have colored with paint, color pencils and wax. I will also bring a set of Bruynzeel color (aquarelle) pencils for you to experiment.

I leave you with the comments my granddaughter made when I recently picked her up at nursery school. She had just been reminded to take her colored drawing home so that her mother could see it. To which Gretchen said, “No, it’s a beautiful artwork for mommy.” But then as I picked it up in her presence she blurted out, “Is that it?” Even 3 year olds realize that scribbling may not be attractive when they view their artwork from a different perspective.


New Members:
        Bill DeLong, 3816 23rd Av S, Minneapolis, MN 55407
        Mike Rice, 4354 Metcalf Dr, Eagan MN 55122
        Louis Nelson, 5016 Beacon Hill Rd, Minnetonka, MN 55345
        Chuck Reisinger, 894 Cty Rd N, Hudson, WI 54016


Feb 18-23, Gretna (near Omaha,NE) Resident carver will be Marty Dolphens. Cost is $170 (includes lodging, meals, carving and entertainment). A great place to see noted carvers in action, for relaxation and for sharing ideas. The Gretna Experience is sponsored by John and Nancy Burke. Area carvers that regularly attend: Jim Burk, Dale Martin, Dennis Mathiason, Midge Johnson, and Harley Schmitgen. (Contact Dennis for more information if you are interested.)
Mar 15-16, Central Minnesota Woodcarvers Show, St Cloud, MN. Contact Gen Jansen for more information.
March 22-23, MWCA 37th annual show at Brookdale Mall in Brooklyn Center, MN
March 22-23, 27th Annual Carving Show, Rochester Woodcarvers Club. At Fairgrounds.
Apr 5-6, Viking Spring Show, Har Mar Mall (CONTACT the Swedes (co-chairs) early so that you can be a volunteer. Positions limited!)
Are you planning to exhibit at the Vikings Spring Show ?
Contact the Swedes (Merle Erickson, Swede Bengtson) to help make it successful. They will be at the February meeting.


My apologies for not accurately recording all of the Show and Tell participants. The cards identifying the presenters were lost in transit to my office. I have indicated what was presented but do not remember all of the associated names. The next issue will have a correction with the necessary information.

NAME                CARVING                         WOOD          FINISH            COMMENTS

STAN WEROS                 FEMALE BUST                                          BASSWOOD         Wax or urethane?
UNKNOWN                       RELIEF -TWO MOOSE                           BASSWOOD          ACRYLICS                   Wood burning?
LEE OLSON                      FISHERMAN                                              BASSWOOD          ACRYLICS                   Idea from?
LEW FORSMARK           TOMPTE + CANE                                      BASSWOOD          ACRYLICS
AARON IONTA               BARK CARVINGS- CABIN, BUSTS     COTTONWOOD                                          SNOW DAZE PROJECT?
UNKNOWN                       LEPRACHAUN, TWO SANTAS            BASSWOOD           ACRYLICS
DENNIS MATHIASON    VIKING BUST                                            BUTTERNUT            WAX
LEO MIELKE                    COWBOY                                                    BASSWOOD            ACRYLICS,
STAN WENKER               LARGE LOON                                            BASSWOOD           ACRYLICS, WAX

Ed Note: Member display forms need to be completely and clearly filled out for proper inclusion in the newsletter. Oral comments do not get referenced. As Samuel Butler advised, “The advantage of doing one’s praising is that one can lay it on so thick, and exactly in the right places.”


Woodcarvers Store and School, 3056 Excelsior Blvd., Minneapolis, MN 55416-0127 (612) 927-7491
Jim Abicht, Fine woodworking - specializing in bases for carving projects (651) 451-7217
Ivan Whillock Studio, 122 NE 1st Avenue, Faribault, MN 55021 (507) 334-8306. (
Krantz Wood Sales, Carving & Specialty Woods, 16748 Stanford St., Forest Lake, MN 55025 (651) 464-5632 (Evenings)
David Lindroth, Custom Cut Woods for Woodcarvers & Artists, 8150 - 137th St.W. Apple Valley, Mn 55124 (952) 432-7066
Nelson-Johnson Wood Products, Inc., 3910 Bryant Ave No., Mpls, MN 55412 (612) 529-2978 cell phone (612) 644-4567
Chris Thompson, Carver and Instructor (651) 457-4130
Gen Jansen, Carver and Instructor (320) 252-3966
Bob Masse “Ruff-Cuts”, 4930 Whitcomb Dr, Madison, WI 53711 (608) 271-2883
Brad Oren Sculpture Supply -- Complete source for stone, wood, clay, abrasives & tools.
Rockler Stores:

Woodcraft Supply, 9741 Lyndale Ave S, Bloomington, MN (952) 884-3634
Gregg McCabe,Stubai tool distributer, 425 Madison St NE, Minneapolis, MN (612)379-9342