|Woodcarver's figures amazingly detailed|
|Written by Dennis HInes/Stateline News|
|Monday, 14 November 2011 14:01|
Woodcarver Gloria Woldanski shows an assortment of her hand-crafted snowmen and santas. She sells the pieces in two galleries, as well as making keepsakes for family members and friends. Terry Mayer/staff photo.
(Read the full story in the e-edition HERE.)
WHITEWATER — Gloria Woldanski of Whitewater enjoys creating holiday decorations out of wood.
Woldanski is an avid woodcarver. She carves various types of figurines, including wizards and wood spirits, but her specialty is Santas and snowmen. Each year, she gives away her wooden holiday decorations to friends and family members as Christmas presents.
“It’s gotten to be a tradition. I think they’ve gotten them for the last 10 or 11 years,” Woldanski said. “My friends and neighbors get one too, every once in awhile, but not as much as my kids and grandkids.”
Gary Woldanski, Gloria’s husband, said his wife puts a lot of detail into her work.
“Some of them have fingernails. Some of them have knuckles,” Gary Woldanski said of his wife’s wood carvings. “Her detail and her painting is phenomenal.”
Each piece can take several days to make — or more, Gloria Woldanski said.
“Each piece is so individualized that you really can’t time them,” she said. “It depends on how many details and things I put in, too. (Some of them), from start to finish, with the painting, might take at least a week.”
Sometimes she works on several pieces at once.
“Sometimes I hit a snag or a bump, and I can’t decide which way to go with it, and I have to put it on the side and wait until it makes up its mind of what it wants to be and lets me know,” Woldanski said. “So I usually have two or three going at a time. One sat for five years before it told me what it wanted to be. I was just stuck.”
Several of Woldanski’s carvings are available for purchase at Gallery 51 in Manitowish, Wis., and at FolkWorks Gallery in Evanston, Ill. Woldanski said she usually travels to those galleries a few times a year to deliver her pieces.
“They’ve been selling steadily at the gallery up north, Gallery 51, so I usually take them up twice a year, in April and in October,” she said. “It depends on what they have left as to what I would give them to fill in the spaces. The snowmen seem to go a lot better up north. It’s sometimes hard to guess what’s going to catch someone’s eye, because what I like isn’t necessarily what someone else likes.”
Woldanski also features her work at the Rock River Valley Carvers of Wisconsin’s annual show and sale, which is held in September. She has been a member of the organization for about five years. She said she enjoys seeing people view her work.
“It’s nice to see people go by them and look and enjoy them so much,” Woldanski said. “I get more enjoyment out of watching the people enjoy them. It’s just neat. You can’t have too much of Christmas. Having Christmas every day would work for me.”
Mary Johnson, a member of the Rock River Valley Carvers of Wisconsin, said Woldanski is a talented artist who often shares her ideas with other members of the organization.
“I enjoy working with Gloria. She’s very enthusiastic,” Johnson said. “She shares ideas. She’s full of energy. She’s a wonderful carver. She does awesome work.”
For Woldanski’s husband, it’s sometimes tough to see his wife’s handiwork leave their house.
“I don’t like to see any of them leave the house when she takes them to the gallery in Illinois or up north,” he said. “I’ve sold them to friends at the bowling alley, and I just don’t like doing it.”
Woldanski said she uses cypress knees, part of the root structure of a cypress tree, to create her carvings. Using the knee allows her to design her carvings into various shapes.
“Each knee is so unique that they tell you what they want to be,” she said. “I can’t force them to be something they don’t want to be, because then it doesn’t carve right. Then you put it on the side until you decide what it tells you what it wants, then it comes so easily. I just love the uniqueness of each one.”
Woldanski travels to Louisiana every few years to get wood for her projects.
“I prefer to go down (to Louisiana), because if I pick my own, each one kind of speaks to me in a different way ... ” she said. “I really enjoy picking my own (wood), because as I pick them up, I can see stuff.”
She also uses acrylic paint and a paste of wax to decorate her figurines to give them an antique look.
“It tones down the colors, so they don’t look quite so bright,” Woldanski said. “I don’t like the brightness of the colors. I like the more toned-down and antique look.”
Her interest in woodcarving was piqued about 11 years ago when she was traveling through Arkansas.
“A guy was carving, and I said, ‘How do you know what to carve?’ and he said, ‘You just take away the wood that doesn’t look like what you want it to be, and there you go,’” Woldanski said. “It just struck something in me, and I looked for classes, and I started taking classes through Waukesha (County) Technical College, and I’ve been carving ever since.”
Woodcarving is a form of relaxation, she said.
“It just brings out something inside of me that I’ve been trying to express,” she said. “It’s just very soothing and very creative. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. It would be very hard, at this point, to not do it.”