Sunday, March 31, 2013

Hopi artisans carve cottonwoods into kachinas

Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:42 AM  By Ron Dungan
Hopi kachina carving goes back to troubled times, to cultural shifts that took place a couple of centuries ago.
Carvers use a variety of methods, tools and paints — both traditional and contemporary — in creating the figures. Some use power tools, others stick with hand tools. Some use fur and feathers, others don’t. Although carvers approach their work differently, each piece begins with a cottonwood root.
The trees live along rivers, springs and washes on high plateaus and in stony passages throughout the Southwest. They put down deep roots and grow a thick layer of rough bark. They stand against floods and drought, through cold winters and hot summers, until they die and are washed away.
Some carvers gather their own roots. They walk dry riverbeds and washes after floods, watching for rattlesnakes. Other carvers are happy to leave that work to others.
“My wife and I used to get it from riverbeds,” said Arthur Holmes Jr., a contemporary-style carver from Prescott Valley, who learned from his father. “Now I have people who go and collect the wood.”
Gerry Quotskuyva, a contemporary carver who lives near Camp Verde, said he once got pretty excited about some roots he spotted. He grabbed a piece and stripped off the bark, his mind filled with possibilities, until he realized there were scorpions in the wood, and his thoughts snapped back to the moment.
Old-style carving
Kachina dolls represent dancers who perform in Hopi ceremonies. The dancers carry messages for their people and are givers of life, said Tayron Polequaptewa, a carver who lives in Flagstaff. They instill discipline. They teach children how to behave. CLICK HERE

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Finding Reference Material

Finding reference material

by Lets Talk Carving with Susan Alexander

To improve our carving skills, not only do we need to learn more about this wonderful craft of carving, but we need a method of retaining what we’ve learned, or at least remembering where we’ve read it.
The only thing I own more of than tools, are books. My carving reference library fills up one bookcase that reaches from the ceiling to the floor, plus a second 3 ft. high case. Want to see a crazy person? That would be me, at midnight, going through my library trying to “remember” where I read one specific carving TIP that I need NOW!
I believe that reading is a contact sport, and if you’re going to play, you’d better have the right equipment. As with carving, the correct tool makes the job easier. Using the correct tools will eliminate the midnight madness of searching through books and back issues of Carving Magazinelooking for that one piece of escaped knowledge.
img 12 13TIP: Here's a photo of what I grabbed from my desk drawer. In order to put your hands on a TIP you read a year ago, whenever you pick up a book/magazine, you should also have one item from Column A and one item from Column B next to you. My favorites are shown below.
Issue 40 Holiday 14
Let’s say that while you’re reading Issue 38, you’re thinking the lamp I mentioned sounds like something you might buy for yourself, and that next month you’d like to carve Donna Menke’s hummingbird for your niece, and your nephew would love Sharon Bechtold’s pirate ship for his birthday.
Issue 40 Holiday 15
TIP: By writing the subject matter on a sticky note, and attaching it to the appropriate page, you’ll quickly find all the articles that you want to refer to, months, even years later. If there is specific information you need from the article, highlight that information with a marker.
TIP: There may be different types of TIPS in one article, which you want to remember. If so, you can use different colored markers. While I highlight most everything in yellow, I will highlight an item I want to purchase in the future – like a new burning tip or special color paint – with a green or blue marker.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Finned Fakes

Belleville man is world's best at carving fish decoys
John McCoy Daily Mail Outdoors editor
"Reprinted with permission from the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, Sept. 6, 2002."
BELLEVILLE -- Some people carve duck decoys for a hobby. Scott Morrison carves fish decoys.
Yes, there is such a thing as a fish decoy. People in Midwestern states use them to lure real fish within spear range. And Morrison, with only four years of experience at carving decoys, already is the world's best at that arcane pastime.
He has a bit of an advantage. As a fisheries biologist with 22 years of experience, he knows how fish look and he knows how they swim.
That knowledge helped set him apart from the crowd two weekends ago, when he captured the world championship of fish decoy carving at the Great Lakes Fish Decoy Carvers and Collectors Association's convention in Livonia, Mich.
"It's a natural fit for me," says Morrison, who lives next to the Ohio River near the Belleville Locks and Dam in Wood County. "It's kind of refreshing to be involved with a group of people who care as much about the way a fish swims in the water as they do about its looks."
Unlike duck decoys, which are judged solely upon their looks, fish decoys also must move properly in the water to score points with contest judges.
"In order to attract fish, a fish decoy has to have some movement to it," Morrison explains. "When activated by a pull on its tether line, it should ‘swim' in a lazy circle."
Six Midwestern states still allow anglers to spear large fish such as sturgeon and northern pike.
Because spear fishing takes place through the thick ice of frozen lakes, anglers use decoys to attract fish to the holes they chop through the ice.
"It's pretty neat how spear fishing works," Morrison says. "You sit in a black- walled tent that shuts out all the light. You lower your decoy into the water, and it's just like looking into a television set. When the big fish come over to inspect the decoy, it swims into the picture and you spear it."
Morrison had never even heard of a fish decoy until six years ago, when he saw one displayed at a duck-decoy competition in Cleveland. The sighting struck a chord in the 52-year-old biologist, who had carved duck decoys for years with only modest competitive success.
"I figured I knew a lot more about fish than I know about ducks," he says.
Two years later, he began entering fish decoy competitions. His works earned immediate acclaim.
Read the rest of the story, click here