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Large Scale Totem Poles

| Totem Pole | | Griffins | Soldier | Chainsaw Carving |

Article Feature: "The Pole - a very Unique Commission" May-June 2003 Chip Chats. Featuring Stanley's large scale totem pole.

Artisans of the Valley - Totem Pole Carving In Progress Bucket of ChipsCarving large-scale pieces is like creating life size art, and of course creates a huge mess of chips!

A very unique commission, Artisans of the Valley completed this reproduction Alaskan Totem pole at the end of May 2002. This work of art is a fully artistic project, and our favorite type of work. Artistic commissions require special attention and either consistent client input, or full artistic freedom. In this case, the client provided a sample Totem, and requested that we create a unique pole "bigger and better" than a model piece.

Hand carved custom totem pole - ruff out"The Pole - a very Unique Commission" May-June 2003 Chip Chats. Featuring Stanley's large scale totem pole.

Hand carved custom totem pole -Having never designed a Totem, Stanley began the project by researching Alaskan and other tribal Totems to gain a full background of the characters, and techniques. A few weeks later he had his template designed and work began. This was Eric's first opportunity to create a large-scale sculpture, gaining his experience doing the ruff-out and heavy work for the pole, Stanley quickly regaining artistic control for all the detail.

Hand carved custom totem pole - in progress unfinishedThis scale pole, commonly known as a "portal pole," is usually found in pairs at the gateway or entrance to a structure. The figures include the Thunderbird, Beaver, Raven, and Bear, all common to Alaskan tribal customs. The pole represents Stanley's artistic rendition of traditional poles, and is not intended to fake an original tribal carving. Canadian and American Natives restrict the rights of true Totems within their own network of craftsman formally trained through traditional apprenticeships. We hope the "bad luck" stigma said to result from an outsider creating a Totem will be waived our case, as the research and enthusiastic attention to detail put into this work of art should pay appropriate tribute to the Native craftsman and their tradition.

Hand carved custom totem pole - painting in progressStanding just shy of six-feet tall, this portal pole accents the open area of the atrium in our client's Frank Lloyd Wright style home.

Hand carved custom totem polesThe color-scheme designed to match the existing d�cor both inside and outside of the glass room, following the rules of the home's architect.

Carving of Totems is a diverse tradition spanning early civilizations between North & South American, Australia, Africa, and Europe.

Common in stone or wood, artistic representation of supernatural beings is an interregnal part of tradition superstition for tribes throughout the world, serving in some cases as a spiritual coat of arms displaying power and prominence or commemoration within the tribal community.

This particular pole bases in Alaskan roots. Each character is a combination of animal and human characteristics, holding specific meaning to tribes. Totems tell a story, and should represent their craftsman and owners. Each pole is unique, and may tell a traditional or hidden story expressing both truth and humor, in many cases poking fun at both parties.

Hand carved custom totem pole - In Progress
Hand carved custom totem pole - In progress
Hand carved custom totem pole - In Progress
Hand carved custom totem pole - in Progress
Hand carved custom totem pole - In Progress

The Characters

Our research lead us to a much greater understanding of traditional use of Totems, and a history of the techniques and skills employed by Native carvers. We look forward to any future opportunity to provide larger scale sculptural pieces such as this one.

Hand carved custom totem pole - Thunderbird (Click to view larger picture)Starting with the Thunderbird atop the pole, this great bird resides on the poles of chiefs. Grand lord of the Sky Realm; frightens humans who disturb him; needs homage; busy with his own wars carried out beyond human perception. This great bird eats whales, and enjoys visiting human dance ceremonies.

Hand carved custom totem pole - The Raven (Click for larger picture)

The Raven, the creator of light, formed the universe starting with a shiny object that turned into the sun. He is a powerful, ever-transforming trickster. The Raven is always hungry; ever curious; deviant; compulsive; crooked, corrupt and deceptive but somehow remains likeable. In modern terms; ever politically incorrect.

Hand carved custom totem pole - The Beaver (Click to view larger picture)

The Beaver, expressing a slightly twisted grimace, follows native traditions to incorporate humorous expressions. This vengeful creature occasionally murders humans. If provoked, the Beaver digs underground tunnels that cause earthquakes and landslides. Known to constructs fine arrows.

Hand carved custom totem pole - The Bear (Click to view larger picture)

The Bear is an early 'transformer,' who can easily switch a human and animal form. A Bear must never be insulted or cursed, this lumbering, caring figure yearns to marry good-looking human princesses has the ability to make fires with wet sticks known as Bear wood.

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Artisans of the Valley
Hand Crafted Custom Woodworking

Stanley D. Saperstein
Eric M. Saperstein
Our studio and showrooms are open by appointment.
Please call ahead so we don't miss you!
(609) 637-0450
Fax (609) 637-0452