Woodcarvers display their talents at Northtown Mall

Denise Osgood fondly remembers watching her father meticulously make a block of basswood or butternut into a piece of art in his workshop set up in the garage of their Blaine home.

Walter Grittner of Lauderdale visits with Lee Peterson of Cokato about his chip carving geometric designs he puts on wooden plates and boxes. The 47th annual Woodcarving Show on March 9 and 10 at Northtown Mall included 28 vendors. Photos by Eric Hagen

Walter Grittner of Lauderdale visits with Lee Peterson of Cokato about his chip carving geometric designs he puts on wooden plates and boxes. The 47th annual Woodcarving Show on March 9 and 10 at Northtown Mall included 28 vendors. Photos by Eric Hagen

Osgood, who now lives in Chisago City, took up her father’s favorite hobby a little over 10 years ago and has learned from him ever since. Irv Synder started wood carving about 40 years ago. Both enjoy carving the images of animals they see in wildlife magazine ranging from tigers to loons.

“I love it. It’s priceless,” Osgood said. “Nobody is here forever. It’s quality time I get to spend with him.”

Synder and Osgood were two of 28 people who displayed their talents in chip carving, relief carving, caricature carving and much more at the 47th annual woodcarving show at Northtown Mall in Blaine on March 9 and 10.

Bill Bates of Barron, Wis., always takes the back roads when he is traveling and has a camera in case he finds inspiring scenery that he can later use as a reference for a woodcarving project. One scene he carved showed a Colorado farm.

Walter Grittner of Lauderdale comes up with elaborate geometric patterns that he chip carves into small wooden boxes and wooden plates.

Vern Johnson of Brooklyn Center created a mountain goat out of basswood and its horns out of wood from a fruit tree because it looks and feels like bone when it hardens. He sprayed on a silicone texture to the outside of the mountain goat and placed it on a stand that he glued pebbles and large rocks to in order to give it the appearance of standing on a mountain pass.

The show was a great opportunity for shoppers to see beautiful and inspirational artwork, including seven four-foot by six-foot wood panels carved out by New Brighton resident Jerry Olsen to show the life of Jesus Christ.

Olsen first started wood carving in 1964 and soon was inspired to work on this elaborate project, but he was still working and spending a lot of time with his family at the time. He really started working on this project about 30 years ago and finished most of it after he retired.

The panels cover major events in Jesus’ life from his birth to The Last Supper, to him rising from the grave after his crucifixion.

Olsen’s goal was not to jam the message down people’s throats. He wanted people to be able to think about it in their own way. It was interesting for him to watch people’s reactions. Some people spent a lot of time looking at the panels while others just took a quick glance and moved on.

Ron Lupinek of Coon Rapids started wood carving in 1992 after he came to this show at Northtown Mall. He is now one of the instructors of an introductory class that takes place once a year.

The first class this year starts next Tuesday, March 19 and the group meets once a week until April 16 at the Mary Ann Young Senior Center, 9150 Central Ave., in Blaine.

Wes Spadgenske of Andover said the first thing they start with is making a snake and they follow-up with making small animal figures. The cost of the five-week introductory course is $65. Call Wes at 763-757-5377 or email loiswes@juno.com for more information.

Lupinek said it can be an inexpensive hobby. All you need is some wood that local vendors can provide, carving knives and sandpaper.

“It’s a relaxing hobby,” Lupinek said. “You can go at your own pace.”

Eric Hagen is at eric.hagen@ecm-inc.com

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