Becky has the skills to do many types of carving but the two she does most often are figures and acanthus. Figure carving means making carvings of people or animals. Acanthus carving is a way to decorate wood with curving leaves.
Here is a picture of Becky with a candleholder she carved in acanthus style. (Click on the photo to see a different view of the candle holder.)
Acanthus is a style of decoration named after a bristly leaf. Have you ever seen a thistle? Acanthus plants are very similar. Carving wood to look like acanthus leafs is a traditional Norwegian art form. Carvings done in the acanthus style look like the plant’s full bristly leaves.
Acanthus and Rosemaling
Another well-known Norwegian art form, rosemaling, grew out of acanthus carving. Rosemaling has the same intricate, curving leaves but it's made by painting, not carving.
Acanthus carving is difficult, Becky says, so people began to rosemal so they could have the familiar patterns in their houses without the hard work of carving.
Figure carving is a Norwegian tradition as well. Becky can remember watching her Grandfather Hans carve figures in his workshop. Many of Becky’s figure carvings depict scenes from Norway. Look through these slides that show Becky making the figure of a bear from a block of wood. What tools does she use? What are the steps in her process?
Here is one of Becky's carvings, “Dreaming of the Open Seas.” Her idea was to show Vikings during the winter months, waiting for warmer days when they could be in their boats again. (click on the image to see a different view.)
Using Your Imagination
Becky’s carvings are an example of an artist using her imagination. Doesn’t all art take imagination? Yes, but Becky is a folk artist. She combines her imagination plus her heritage to create a scene from the past. She and other folk artists might paint or carve something they’ve only heard about, often because it’s something far away or long ago.
A Gold Medal Event
Did you know there’s a gold medal for woodcarving? Becky won one in 1992! Head to Becky's Traditions page to find out more.
“Carving is a kind of bridge with my relatives back in Norway. I feel like I belong that way.”
– Becky Lusk