Woodworking

Turning Wooden Bowls and Ale Bowls with a Human-Powered Spring Pole Lathe

Roger Abrahamson

$192 members / $242 non-members

Turned wooden bowls are an excellent example of functional Norwegian folk art. These common ceremonial drinking vessels are used both for serving on special occasions and in the brewing process. Many were brought to America by immigrants because they were portable and were a “little piece of the old country.” Most old bowls were turned on reciprocating motion spring pole lathes. In this class, students will begin by splitting a fresh, green birch log. Using axes, hand-forged hook tools, knives, and a foot-powered spring pole lathe, each student will create a turned ale bowl to take home and use. Design, layout, axe work, proper cutting techniques, finishing, and tool sharpening will be covered. During the class there will also be lively discussions on the design, function, and culture surrounding these objects, as well as the history of woodturning. This class will require an additional fee for materials.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels. Students taking this class should be prepared for a physically strenuous experience.

Roger Abrahamson is a traditional bowl turner. Using spring pole lathes, hand forged tools, and freshly harvested native woods, he specializes in the creation of Norwegian ale vessels. His fascination for these objects has its roots in his immigrant grandmother’s ale bowl, which is still in the family. Roger has demonstrated his art at Vesterheim’s Nordic Fest, Norsk Høstfest, the Minnesota State Fair, the Smithsonian Institute’s Viking Exhibition, and several other events and historic sites. He has been a turner and demonstrator for 18 years, working almost exclusively with a pole lathe the past 15 years.

Scandinavian Style Flat Plane Figure Carving

Harley Refsal

$192 members / $242 non-members

Carve several figures in the Scandinavian flat-plane style. In this style, the figures are carved in large, flat planes, created primarily using a simple carving knife. Beginning with tool sharpening, the course provides hands-on carving experience as you complete a figure in step-by-step fashion. Finish the project by painting the figure and applying a final oil finish. After this initial project, you will carve additional pieces independently while Harley offers assistance on an individual basis. Sharpening equipment and finishing supplies are also covered. There will be a materials fee.

Level of Instruction: All levels. Youth ages 12-17 signed up with a participating adult receive a 25% discount.

Harley Refsal is a Vesterheim Gold Medalist who has taught Scandinavian figure carving throughout the United States and Norway. He was honored by H. M. Harald V, King of Norway, with the St. Olav Medal of Honor for his efforts in reinvigorating Scandinavian figure carving in both the United States and Norway. A retired professor of Scandinavian folk art at Luther College in Decorah, he also regularly demonstrates and gives many presentations about Norwegian folk art and traditions. He is the author of several books. Harley was named the 2012 Woodcarver of the Year by the magazine Wood Carving Illustrated.

Handcarving Wooden Spoons and Kitchen Utensils

David Østrem

$149 members / $199 non-members

Have fun learning or improving your wood carving skills. We’ll carve several wooden kitchen utensils and then create decorations to embellish the spoons—kolrosing, or carving a face on the handle. Paints will be furnished to add color. David gives his students a one-on-one experience in a fun and highly motivated atmosphere. You will be surprised how fast the day goes by and how good your carvings will look. Carving tools will be available. Class instruction will begin with proper techniques for sharpening and handling wood carving tools, with special emphasis on safety. A great class for young carvers! There will be a $20 materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels. Youth ages 12-17 signed up with a participating adult receive a 25% discount.

David Østrem began carving when his wife signed him up for one of Harley Refsal’s classes. David thought he was coming to Decorah to visit his daughter at Luther College, but his wife had a different plan. Since this first class, David was hooked. He has started his own carving business, selling his flat-plane carvings and designing and selling wooden spoons to people worldwide. David has been carving and teaching classes throughout the Midwest for 25 years. He also judges many carving shows. David has had instruction from carvers in the United States, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, and Norway.

Dragonstil Woodcarving

Becky Lusk

$192 members / $242 non-members

Dragonstil (dragon style), an iconic art form from the Viking ages, regained popularity in the late 1800s during Norway’s Nationalistic Movement. The leading master carver of dragonstil during that time was Lars Kinsarvik. The door crown pictured here was carved by him in 1896. Today, there is an increased interest in Vikings and their art form of dragonstil. In this class, students will carve a door crown for their own home. The artwork pictured here is not the project for the class. All aspects of relief carving will be covered during the course. Finishing options will be discussed. There will be a materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction:All levels. Some woodcarving experience required.

Becky Lusk is a third-generation folk artist and a Vesterheim Gold Medalist. Her work was included in the exhibition Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition, curated by Marion Nelson, Vesterheim’s former Executive Director. Becky carves ale bowls, figures, relief scenes, acanthus pieces, and dragonstil pieces. She and her husband have a workshop near Coon Valley, Wisconsin.

Beginning and Intermediate Acanthus Carving

Hans Sandom

$320 Vesterheim members / $370 non-members

Learn to carve elegant, ornate leaf designs in wood. Acanthus carving, a baroque style of relief carving, dates back many centuries and is used to add beauty to both structural and decorative woodwork. In this class you will learn the basic techniques of working with wood grain, the elements of design, and the use and care of wood carving tools. There will be a materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction: Beginner to intermediate.

Hans Sandom is an immigrant from Foldal, Norway. He began carving 25 years ago and is a Vesterheim Gold Medalist. Influenced by Leif Melgaard, his work has received attention for its perfection of design and precision of craftsmanship. Sandom’s work has been featured in several exhibitions, including Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition, the traveling exhibition curated by Marion Nelson, former Vesterheim Executive Director. Hans is a featured author in Vesterheim magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2, dedicated to woodworking.

Intermediate and Advanced Acanthus Carving and Painting

Hans Sandom

$320 Vesterheim members / $370 non-members

Hans will present you with complex projects and advanced elements of design. He also will cover design and carving techniques. This is a good class for those interested in larger-scale acanthus projects. Enhance your acanthus carving to its best with painting tips from Hans. It is recommended to bring a practice board (previously carved and sealed) to practice on. Students just completing Beginning and Intermediate Acanthus Carving are welcome. There will be a materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction: Intermediate to advanced with some experience in acanthus carving.

Hans Sandom is an immigrant from Folldal, Norway. He began carving 25 years ago and is a Vesterheim Gold Medalist. Influenced by Leif Melgaard, his work has received attention for its perfection of design and precision of craftsmanship. Sandom’s work has been featured in several exhibitions, including Norwegian Folk Art: The Migration of a Tradition, the traveling exhibition curated by Marion Nelson, former Vesterheim Executive Director. Hans is a featured author in Vesterheim magazine, Vol. 3, No. 2, dedicated to woodworking.

Shrink Boxes—The Art of Carving Waterproof Containers from Green Wood

Jim Sannerud

$192 members / $242 non-members

The shrink box is a vessel made from a hollowed tree, essentially a short section of wooden pipe made from a green tree branch, with a small kerf in the bottom to fit a dry piece of wood. If all the steps are done correctly, the green branch will shrink around the dry base and create a watertight vessel. The Vikings used these open vessels for drinking or would make tight-fitting lids creating containers for storing salt and spices. Later, they were also made in the shape of a book to store the family testament. You may choose to make a rectangle shrink box or a round shrink box. There will be a materials fee of $75.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels.

Jim Sannerud With over 30 years of experience working with wood, the essence of Jim’s work comes from respecting and working with the natural order of wood, the beauty of its movement, and the incredible adaptability of different parts of the tree. Jim enhances these natural elements by leaving the raw imprint of his interaction with the tree—tool marks, hand carving—to make useful craft honoring his Scandinavian heritage. Having studied in Sweden and Northern Europe, Jim’s love of the raw folk art of these areas results in work that is vibrant, organic, and just fun. His greatest joy comes from teaching—sharing his “infectious enthusiasm”and empowering others to create.

Milk Paint—Preparing, Mixing Colors, and Painting Your Wooden Objects

Jim Sannerud

$64 members / $84 non-members

Milk paint, with its deep rich colors, is one of the most ancient forms of paint known. Milk protein (also known as casein) and crushed limestone mix to form a very strong binder. Clay is added for body, earth pigments are added for color, and the paint is made in powder form to avoid adding chemical preservatives. In this class you will learn how to prepare milk paint, mix your own colors, and apply your milk paint mix to a sample board and a wooden bowl that you will take home. Rosemalers welcome. There will be a materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels. Youth ages 12-17 signed up with a participating adult receive a 25% discount.

Jim Sannerud With over 30 years of experience working with wood, the essence of Jim’s work comes from respecting and working with the natural order of wood, the beauty of its movement, and the incredible adaptability of different parts of the tree. Jim enhances these natural elements by leaving the raw imprint of his interaction with the tree—tool marks, hand carving—to make useful craft honoring his Scandinavian heritage. Having studied in Sweden and Northern Europe, Jim’s love of the raw folk art of these areas results in work that is vibrant, organic, and just fun. His greatest joy comes from teaching—sharing his “infectious enthusiasm”and empowering others to create.

Hand Carving the Norwegian Bowl

Jon Ström

$210 members / $260 non-members

Traditional Scandinavian bowl carving starts with the selection of a green, or undried, log. The log is then split in half and the selected piece flattened on two sides with a carving axe. With the wood held in a vise, or traditional carving bench, the bowl is hollowed out with a bowl-carving adze. The swing of the adze creates a natural arc that lends to the elongated shape of the log and develops the finished shape of the bowl. After the inside is smoothed, the piece is returned to the chopping block to shape the outside of the bowl. Details of decoration, drying, and finishing with oil will be covered, resulting in a piece of usable tableware. We also will have the opportunity to construct a traditional carving bench to meet the needs of carving this type of bowl. Tools will be provided by Jon. There will be a materials fee.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels.

Jon Ström attended McPherson College and Southwest University in Minnesota, where he studied for a degree in art education and has been working with wood ever since. He is a sculptor, woodworker, and log builder with a strong interest in spoon and bowl carving techniques. Jon studied with Jögge Sunquist, a Swedish carver, and has demonstrated at Grand Portage Monument, Old Fort William, and White Oak Society. He has taught at Goods from the Woods in Grand Rapids and North House Folk School. Jon and his wife Elma Tuomisalo Ström make their home in the Northwoods of Minnesota.

Bentwood Boxes

John Balstad

$256 members / $306 non-members

Students will learn the basic bentwood techniques as they form and bend the wood into a tine, or container with vertical posts holding a cover in place. Tools and materials will be supplied, with a materials fee of $20.00.

 

Level of Instruction: Some basic woodworking skills are required.

John Balstad has always had a passion for the Scandinavian folk arts, especially items made out of wood. He took his first bentwood box class in the 1990s and has made over 100 boxes, in classes alone. He has taught over 15 classes and been a frequent instructor at Milan Folk School.

Grindbygningen—Traditional Norwegian Timber Framing

Owen Christianson

$320 members / $370 non-members

Help build a grindbygning, a traditional Scandinavian timber frame building. This class is a remake of the popular class in 2007 with Norwegian instructor Kåre Herfindal, but taught by one of Kåre’s students from that class, Owen Christianson. In this five-day class, you will learn the history of timber framing in Scandinavia, learn about and make the building joints, and build a 10-by-18-feet grindbygning. Bring your chisels and slicks, saws and mauls, or just bring yourself. We will start with hand tools, but if we get behind in our schedule the chain saw and power tools will come out. You will go home with a complete set of blue prints and instructions to build your own.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels.

Owen Christianson learned Scandinavian timber framing techniques (grindbygninger) from Kåre Herfindal at Vesterheim in 2007. Since then Owen has built four grindbygninger and helped build three others. Owen is a Ph.D. research scientist/engineer specializing in cryogenics, superconductors, and thermal aspects of motors and generators. As a hobby Owen studies Scandinavian woodworking, including turning and timber framing and making historical reconstructions.

Kolrosing, Chip Carving, and Painting

Judy Ritger

$192 members / $242 non-members

Are you interested in adding free-form leaf borders to your rosemaling or kolrosing piece? The main focus of this class will be learning to add a chip-carved border to a project that has been decorated with rosemaling or kolrosing, but there will be some kolrosing instruction and rosemaling tips included. Our final project will be an eight or ten inch plate with rosemaling or kolrosing in the center. This will not be a beginning rosemaling class, so if you wish to have rosemaling on your piece, you must know how to paint at least a simple flower. We will also spend some time going over painting and finishing techniques for the leaves. Students must have their own tools. Plates and tools can be purchased at the Museum Store. Practice boards for learning chip carving and kolrosing will be provided.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels.

Judy Ritger is the first artist to be a Vesterheim Gold Medalist in two media—rosemaling and woodcarving. In painting, she is well known for her interpretation of the flame-like character of the Gudbrandsdal acanthus. She teaches many classes around the country in both rosemaling and carving.

Letter Incising in Wood

Jock Holmen

$192 members / $242 non-members

Learn to carve letters, numbers, and small insignia to mark your work. We’ll cover how to transfer designs to wood and incise letters and numbers. These skills can be utilized for projects as prominent as road signs and as discreet as a small smiling face that only the most observant passerby will notice. There will be a number of tools available for you to try, including a variety of chisels and v-gouges, but much can be accomplished with a simple carving knife. This type of carving is a great skill for anyone who works in wood. Feel free to bring a small project you have in mind, or simply practice before you dig into a big project.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels.

Jock Holmen, “The Norwegian Termite,” has been a professional woodcarver for over 30 years. He is a Gold Medalist and won the First Place Carving Award at the 2005 Northern Woods Exhibition in Minneapolis. In addition to his commissioned projects, Jock is a contributing editor at American Woodworker magazine and teaches woodcarving classes. He has received training and tutoring from various American and Norwegian master carvers.

Chip Carving

Ellen Macdonald

$149 members / $199 non-members

“Let the chips fly” as you learn this surprisingly easy form of woodcarving dating back to the Gothic Period. Students will begin by drawing their pattern on a flat wooden practice board
followed by using a special chip carving knife to cut and remove the small chips of wood. The work is portable, held on one’s knee, at home or away. The goal of this beginner class will be to master technique, not complete a project. If time allows students will have the opportunity to carve some simple ornaments.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels. Youth ages 13-17 signed up with a participating adult receive a 25% discount.

Ellen Macdonald was a tomboy as a child and usually had a jackknife in her pocket. As an adult, she searched for the perfect outlet for her love of working with wood. When she discovered Wayne Barton and his revival of chip carving, she had arrived. She has been privileged to study with Wayne and has been chip carving actively for the past six years.

Carving for Christmas—Figures and Toys

Harley Refsal

$192 members / $242 non-members

Give the most awesome and lasting Christmas gifts possible this year—something you’ve made yourself. How about giving a handcarved holiday figure, or a sturdy wooden toy for a very young family member or neighbor. Warm to the touch, with a safe finish, wood is a great alternative to plastic. A toy to be passed on for years to a child or grandchild.

 

Level of Instruction: All levels, including wood-be carvers. Youth ages 12-17 signed up with a participating adult receive a 25% discount.

Harley Refsal is a Vesterheim Gold Medalist who has taught Scandinavian figure carving throughout the United States and Norway. He was honored by H. M. Harald V, King of Norway, with the St. Olav Medal of Honor for his efforts in reinvigorating Scandinavian figure carving in both the United States and Norway. A retired professor of Scandinavian folk art at Luther College in Decorah, he also regularly demonstrates and gives many presentations about Norwegian folk art and traditions. He is the author of several books. Harley was named the 2012 Woodcarver of the Year by the magazine Wood Carving Illustrated.