Viking Wood Carvers Association
Newsletter September 2002

Newsletter Editor
Dennis Mathiason
12400 Hilloway Rd W
Minnetonka, Mn 55305


Vol 28 No. 7

7:00 pm SEPT 9, 2002

Everett Ellenwood, "Casting Your Carvings"
(More information in Newsletter)

Viking Wood Carver Fall Show
When: October 26-27, 2002
Where: Har Mar Mall
Register Now!
Contact Swede Bengtson

* Bob Pitts
(612) 722-0449

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

* Jeff Lippka
(952) 835-5127

* Myrtle Brandvold
(952) 831-4361

* Dennis Mathiason
(952) 512-0073

* Jim Ayers
* Myron Asper

* Keith Fredrickson
* Leonard Kampa

* Carol "Swede" Bengtson (952) 884-4136


October 14, 2002: Viking meeting and program
Viking Fall Woodcarver Show Information
Where: Har Mar Mall Snelling & County Rd B
When: October 26-27, 2002

Minutes of the June Meeting and TREASURER'S REPORT will be printed in the October Newsletter .

September Program description by Jim Ayers

Everett Ellenwood of the Rochester Woodcarvers will give a presentation on "Casting Your Carvings".The most effective way to replicate your woodcarvings is to make castings of them. Ev, drawing on his 30 years of experience as a woodcarver, will describe different kinds of molds, resins, and procedures. He will give a demonstration by making several castings as part of his presentation. More recently Ev has been carving realistic faces and teaching woodcarving where students use reference models casted from his own originals. He will bring lots of materials to illustrate mistakes, successes, and exactly how the casting process unfolds. As a bonus, he will also bring a videotape he recently made on knife sharpening which can be shown during the coffee break. If you have a carving you are thinking of for casting, bring it to the meeting, and Ev may be able to give some pointers on how to do it right the first time. He brings a lot of enthusiasm and skill so the evening will be enriching.

Viking Fall Show News

The show committee has been working on various aspects of the show and will begin to put the last pieces together shortly. Carving for Charity is well on its way.(Note: You should have received an announcement for this event in the past week or so.) Members have volunteered to give show demonstrations, and Har Mar Mall is ready for us with all the lights and floor outlets working. To date though, we only have 23 tables reserved. That's a far cry from our objective of 80 tables. We have sent out two announcement mailings and handed out full page bulletins at the June meeting. (Ed Note: Make certain you sign up for this show soon. Preparing for a show requires a lot of effort and volunteers. I know Swede Bengtson and Denny Schuster have worked hard to make this show a success and they are counting on your participation) Please note: Myrtle Brandvold will be traveling from the middle of September to just before the Show. So all show reservations and checks should be mailed to Swede Bengtson, Viking Woodcarvers, 2510 West 112th Street, Bloomington, MN, 55431. The recent mailing of Carving for Charity announcement included a revised registration form reflecting this change.

Editor's Comments

Email Update. Approximately 33 members now receive the newsletter by email. The current mailing was sent to 128 sites. If you would like to be added to the email list please send me your name and your email address. It is easy to read and will have more digital features as work progresses, Send email to me at: and add a brief full name so that I know who sent the message. Please note the following conditions for this list
* The list will not be shared.
* Group mailings will not identify addresses of other members
* Email List will only be used for mailing authorized Viking literature.
* The newsletter is prepared using a Microsoft WORD program. You should be able to read it with any similar word processor or reader on a DOS or MAC computer system.
* For those of you that would like to reduce the risk of spamming you can get MAC or DOS anti-spam software at the following sites . The first site software costs $19.00 while the latter is free for personal use.

Last week I attended the Royal Chiselers wood show in Blue Earth, MN. They had a very nice show with several wood carving classes.The show was jointly presented with a quilt display at the local high school. Exhibitors were charged $15.00 per table and a $3.00 viewer admission fee was charged. The crowd was enthusiastic and very interested in the art form. Had the opportunity to talk with and exchange ideas with a lot of talented carvers

The wood carving classes were taught by Dean Trautman and Harley Smitgen.. The Blue Earth Show also has a woodworking contest with 17 categories. Some of the championship awards went to Dale Martin (wood turnings), Harley Smitgen (relief), Rick Jensen (carved bark) and Midge Johnson (carved rabbit).

I also learned that Harley will head up the Minnesota Woodcarvers Association. (He will be at a Viking meeting later this year to give a talk on carving and painting eyes and to discuss cooperative club activities. I have asked him to make the eye carving a tutorial with audience participation carving a stick. More details later.) For this issue Leo Mielke contributed a write-up concerning one of his trips. Guest editorials are greatly appreciated.

Contribution From Leo Mielke

In the fall of 2000 a friend and myself bicycled from the southern end of Lake Champlain north along the Vermont side of the lake into Canada and then on to Quebec City. We returned along the north side of the St Lawrence River to Montreal and then south along the New York side of the lake back to our starting point. The highlight of the trip was Quebec City. It is a beautiful old walled European like city and our experience with the French inhabitants was that they were friendly and congenial. Upon our return home I started encouraging my wife to go back and see it with me. In the interim I had heard some club members talk about trips they had made to St Jean Port Joli (about 75 miles NE of Quebec - founded in 1677 - in which there is a large number of wood carvers. Since I had not seen this on my trip I continued to promote the Quebec vacation with even greater enthusiasm. In the spring of 2002 we decided to go. Our plan was to rent a car at the airport and spend about 1 day in St Jean and return to Quebec City for 3 days. The plan worked well.

St Jean has a population of about 3000. It is located on the south shore of the St Lawrence River. It is on a smaller road (HWY 132) which parallels a freeway type road (HWY 20). There are some shops within the town, but most of them are scattered along HWY 132 stretching for about 10 miles east and west of St Jean. There were about 35 shops/studios to visit and we stopped to look at about 20 of them. It was almost all in the round figure carving. Common examples were fishermen, hunters, trappers with and without lots of equipment, people standing, people sitting, etc. None of the carvings were painted but rather stained and finished with lacquer. There were thousands of carvings for sale at very reasonable prices. The smaller carvings (about 6-8 inches tall) were $20-25 and some medium sized carvings (about 12 inches tall) were about $65 (US). The quality of the carvings being sold were not as good as some of the examples previously exhibited by members of our club (but still very nice). Many of the shops/studios had beautiful carvings on display that were not for sale. There is no doubt that there is considerable talent in the area.

We visited a carving school east of St Jean ( On display within his shop were examples of his work. They were really magnificent. I purchased a book which the owner had authored which showed more of his accomplishments. Deschenes specializes in large realistic figures. His work is outstanding. He offeres many one week classes during the summer months.


There has been, and continues to be, a lot of claims as to the best way to sharpen tools. Equipment and material for sharpening can lighten your wallet from $10 -700. Unfortunately there is no direct relation between money spent and sharpening results. At a recent meeting of 20 carvers, a quick poll found only one person that could routinely produce sharp tools. Most indicated that they relied on others, or worse, carved with a dull tool. On examination some of these tools were found to be as sharp as a "cold butter knife". Almost of the group indicated that their training had been minimal at best. Comments like "Purchase this stone and a leather strop and you will...." Some of the known myths that are perpetuated are:
* A stone must always be lubricated.
* Burnishing is best accomplished with a leather strop.
* Diamond is better than any other surface material.
* Sandpaper (any kind) does more damage than good.
* Only (you name the color) rouge should be used for polishing.
* Grinding with high speed grinders destroys metal temper.
I have witnessed excellent results using materials as abrasive as a slice of bread to that of the best powders available. My training began when my father taught me how to sharpen kitchen knives with a 3450 rpm grinder. Later, while doing chemical research I worked with emory and diamond granules to produce a high quality polished surface on stainless steel.

I think it is time for the club to sponser a hands on tutorial in the various techniques. Wood carving is a lot of fun if you have sharp tools. Safer too! But carving with a dull tool is simply frustrating. I think this is the main reason individuals give up carving.

I would appreciate your thoughts on the sharpening. For those of you with internet service there are many sites you can visit that give you pros and cons of the various techniques. Use search words such as tool sharpening, knife sharpening,polishing, abrasive materials, etc to get information. A very good search engine is


RED WING WOODCARVERS SHOW AND SALE will be held Oct 5, 6 at St James Hotel in Red Wing ,MN. Cost $35.00 / table. Sat eve dinner is $15.00. Contact Dennis Koenig, 1617 Cobblestone CT, Red Wing, MN 55066; ph- 651-388-0978; email: . Contact soon if interested as space is limited.

FIRST ANNUAL Woodcarvers Rendevous. Sat Sept 21 1:00 pm - 1:00am at "Jammers" - 7mi. north of Bemidji call 218-759-1565 Activities included are: demos,carving contests,log-sawing contest, tug-o-war,throwing contests,sales,arts & crafts,storytelling, dance,antiques flea market. Camping and showers will be available to participants. Cowboy stew will be furnished for contestants. $20.00/space (Please note that information is limited on this start-up meeting.)

SNOW DAZE CARVE IN Jan 3-5,2003 at the Green Lake Bible Camp on Green Lake, Spicer, MN. Cost is $124 plus materials. Contact Gen Jansen for more information, ph 320-252-3966, email Note: 3 Vikings (Ayers, Grittner, and Jansen ) will be instructors. Krantz will have wood at the show on Saturday. Previous participants have indicated this event which is presented by the Central Minnesota WoodCarvers is a well run, fun weekend.