Woodwork Magazine Balinese Mask Carving April 2001
I have followed a long and scenic road to get where I am now. I was born in Massachusetts to German immigrant parents in 1961. I was drawn to woodworking in junior high through the need to make my own skateboards. I bought a table saw and router when I was 14 from the hardware store where I worked. I started learning carpentry as a profession in 1984 and found myself working on more than a few 18th century homes. During this period, I attended the Boston Architectural Center where I slowly began to learn about traditional building and woodworking trades.
In 1988, life brought me to the Twin Cities where one of my two sisters was already living. I joined the Midwest tool collectors at a tool swap meet held at Murphey's Landing in Shakopee. I cobbled together a costume, back story and sets of tools to volunteer as an interpreter on weekends. One summer day as I was acting as the itinerant village carpenter, a giant redheaded hippie with a small boy in tow told me he made windsor chairs on a spring pole lathe. Having no idea what that meant, but knowing that sounded so cool, I suggested he join us. He did and we became fast friends. Not long into our friendship, he showed me how to carve a spoon in the Swedish style, told me about Wille Sundqvist and opened my eyes to Swedish carving techniques. I never looked back.
In 1996, I traveled to Micronesia and lived on the island of Saipan for two years. There, I carved unusual species of wood and had the opportunity to work on a Carolinian dugout canoe. Also, I studied Balinese Mask carving. My experiences opened me up to new possibilities and techniques.
As I was going along with life and career, I felt a constant struggle between traditional and modern ways: hand tools and power tools. I realized both methods are valid, and rather than fight against each other, they can in fact support each other. The struggle between hand work and power tools evolved into a working partnership: the ancient and modern world working together. Now, after many classes, formal and informal, with master craftspeople from all over scandinavia and some in my own backyard, here I am.