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I am a 'born here' native of Central
NY spending most of my life in the peripherals of Utica. Since leaving
college, I've lived and worked in Rome, NY, which is located between Utica
and Syracuse, and just south of the Adirondacks. Yvonne and I were married
while I was still completing a degree at SUNY/Oneonta. I graduated and we moved to Rome
where I started my career as a Physics teacher in 1979. During the
next six years I picked up part-time careers in home repair, wallpapering,
coaching football, and fatherhood (two daughters, Laura and Melissa...
Ok, that ones FULL time). Also, during this time I picked up computers,
almost as a hobby, and applied it to my Physics teaching. Other hobbies
at the time were fishing and woodworking.
Since a teacher's salary could
not keep me in fishing equipment at the time, I learned how to carve my
own rapala type fishing lures with x-acto knives. My first attempt
was ugly, but caught an 8lb 11oz brown trout from a small lake that should
not have been able to produce a fish that size. You might think that
would have launched my woodcarving, but it didn't. I tried a couple
of times to carve other objects, but found the x-acto knives inadequate.
I bought a bench knife and a stone at a Syracuse woodworking show.
Back then the show was sharing space with the Onondaga Woodcarving Club.
No matter how hard I worked that knife on the stone, it was always too
much work to carve with it.
In 1985 I took my computer knowledge
and science background and went to work for a contractor to the local Air
Force research lab. Thanks to the new salary level I was able to
indulge in another interest of mine, photography. I was still interested
in carving, and at one point purchased a 3"x4"x3' beam of basswood.
All I accomplished was insulting a couple of God's creations (specifically
horses and wood ducks). God must have forgiven me though, since a
friend of mine put me onto a video series by Rick Butz. The first
video taught me a couple of critical and normally bloodless knife cutting
techniques. Something else that clicked was the audio part of this
show, since you could hear the knife do this whispering slice through the
wood. Hey, you mean that crunching sound I get isn't natural?
The next video was on sharpening techniques (like I said, God forgave me).
Oh, after stone sharpening there's something called honing... Now
woodcarving was fun.
Well by 1990 my career at the
lab is starting to take me on travel a lot, so to keep my sanity I start
packing a small tool roll and a couple of project blanks. My projects
are, at that time, mostly by Harley Refsal, and I'm really interested in
the Scandinavian flat plane style since I'm half-Swedish (My paternal grandfather
emigrated from Sweden when he was eight). Then in 1994 I visit this
woodcarving show/competition sponsored by the Mohawk Valley Art and Woodcarving
Association. The variety is incredible. In addition to the
usual awesome songbirds, ducks, loons, and raptors there were carousel
horses, chip carving, fish, furniture, bats, and dragons. For two
hours I wandered around. When my mouth wasn't hanging open, I harassed
all the displaying carvers with questions. Then I took a lunch break,
went back and did it again. Woodcarving went to the level of addiction
That same year, Yvonne decided
to try scroll sawing together with decorative painting. Together
with my daughters who were doing beadwork and dream catchers, we hit a
few local craft shows as Bloomquist's Creations. I did not sell a
single carving until our third and final show that fall, but a woodcarving
inventory was built up. At the last show I sold two pieces, bartered
for a stain glass cardinal, and made new friends. One of those friends
introduced me to a local bookstore owner who was born in Iceland.
Thorunn, owner of Thorunn's Books, liked the Scandinavian style of my carvings,
and she has been selling my pieces and giving encouragement ever since.
With all this carving activity, it still didn't occur to me to participate
in the 1995 MVAWA show until it was almost too late. I got a 2nd
and 3rd that year at the intermediate level. It was one of the best
weekends I can remember. I attended a non-competition show in Morrisville,
Vt. that year also. There I met the author of Tom Wolfe Carves Dragons.
It's pretty timely since I have my first dragon there, carved from the
same book. As a bonus I sell the dragon for $500. Truthfully,
Yvonne and I thought that price would guarantee its return home with us.
My younger daughter, Melissa, bought herself
a new knife, and a couple of small, beginner projects at the same show.
She wants me to teach her to carve. That December I started teaching
beginning carvers at a local stamp store (Sweethearts Stamps). Melissa
makes a great TA (teaching assistant). Back at the MVAWA show in
1996 my table had four blue ribbons. The best one belongs to my daughter.
In 1997 I moved myself to the
advanced level thinking that "running with the big dogs" would give me
a push. Yvonne and Melissa kept watching the judging from outside
windowed room, and running back to report.
"Hey Dad, your gun box got a blue, and I think
my goldfish got a red"
"Nice going kid. Good start for your
first year in adult/beginner."
"Dad, I see a red ribbon on your abstract,
but I don't think your tomte placed"
"Super, we got three ribbons, and we both
bumped up a level this year. Not bad."
"Honey, they just moved your gun box off to
the side with a bunch of other blue ribbon winners."
"Oh God, Hon. I don't think I want to hear
any more. It must be in the run for best of class"
"Honey, it's got another ribbon on it."
"Honey, it's got ANOTHER ribbon on it."
They awarded me best of show that year.
It took several months before my head fit comfortably into the minivan
again. I haven't been able to repeat on that show... yet. Shortly
after that show I became a member of MVAWA so I could get a monthly 'fix'.
Melissa joined too, and together with a carving friend of mine we do the
two-hour, round trip pilgrimage to Amsterdam, NY on the first Tuesday of
every month. During the course of 1998 I did two programs for the club.
I point out that there were two programs to promote the logic that once
might have been a group blunder, but since they had advance warning for
my second program and still came to the meeting...
Later I hooked up with a second club closer
to home in Clinton, NY. It was a fairly small, loose group. We've grown
a little, become semi-organized (nobody is in a hurry to 'organize' any
more than size dictates), and actually came up with a name. We're the Erie
More recently I continue to teach beginner
woodcarving with Melissa as TA, keep receiving commissions here and there
(Melissa is too), and last June I joined an artists' co-op in Old Forge,
NY called Artworks. I have been invited to give woodcarving demonstrations
here and there. If you ever get a chance to demo a talent at any elementary
school, grab it. You get reminded what a 'gee-whiz' age that is, and it's
really worth the time. Well that about covers it for woodcarving and me.
I've got to get back to some projects. See ya.