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Woodcarvers Show this weekend

November 5, 2010
Jodelle Greiner — Staff Writer

FAIRMONT - The intricate faces are sometimes comical, sometimes powerful, but all are carved with skill.

Those who visit the Southern Minnesota Woodcarvers Show on Saturday and Sunday at Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont will see that and more.

Visitors can look over 30 tables of carvings, some of which will be for sale. They also can check out vendor Chris Whillock's selection of carving tools and supplies, watch carvers work on projects and get their curiosity satisfied about the craft.

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SKILLED?HANDS?— Ken Rusch will be one of the wood carvers displaying his work at the Southern Minnesota Woodcarvers Show on Saturday and Sunday at Five Lakes Centre in Fairmont.

"We encourage people to stop by and visit, ask questions," said Ken Rusch of the Blue Earth Royal Chiselers, which is hosting the show, along with the Ceylon Woodcarvers. "We're interested in expanding and we need new woodcarvers."

No one should think they're too old to start carving, Rusch said.

"It's been a wonderful hobby for me," he said.

He had always been interested in wood and "when I retired, I thought I'd do small furniture," he said, but he didn't have the large equipment or the room for it.

"A friend, Doug Richards, suggested wood carving," Rusch said. "I tried it and got hooked on it. It's provided me with many hours in an interesting hobby."

"Just the feel of the wood, the results" is what he likes best, he said. "Start with a block of wood and see the progression as the figure comes out of the wood."

Rusch's first project was a "little gnome" he made out of basswood, "a preferred wood," he said. He also uses a lot of butternut and some pine and applewood.

He uses small branches to hand-carve his characters.

"There's a figure in every one," Rusch said. "Kind of like peeling a banana."

Expanding their repertoire is important to the Royal Chiselers, he said.

"Each meeting, it's up to a member to bring a class," Rusch said. The class could involve a new technique or how to use a new tool.

He learned relief carving while wintering in Arizona and "it's become a preferred style of carving," Rusch said. "It's like drawing in wood."

Rusch literally draws a picture on a block of wood, then uses his numerous hand tools to "remove the wood you don't need," he said.

That's how he carved a picture of a bear, which his granddaughter painted, and he's working on a companion piece of an elk.

Rusch keeps a supply of rounded "palm crosses," which he says people like to roll around in their fingers, He's also working on some seasonal items, such as Santas, snowmen and evergreen trees.

"There will be a nice variety of carving" at the show, Rusch said. "A lot of animals, caricatures, decoys, fish, birds and Santa Clauses."



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