Whittling with Chris Lubkemann...A Unique Slant on Woodcarving
Information on Chris Lubkemann's carvings, books, demonstrations and programs
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This page starts with some notes, followed by a brief introduction to Chris Lubkemann and the type of woodcarving he does, teaches, and writes about.  Glance through the various pages and link onto the videos that are mentioned in order to get an idea of this simple, creative, and super-fun "branch of woodcarving."

DATES FOR UPCOMING WORKSHOPS:

                    SATURDAY, JANUARY 31, 2015
                    SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2015
                    SATURDAY, MARCH 7, 2015

                    EACH WORKSHOP RUNS FROM 9 A.M. TO 4 P.M.

                    Please see "Programs and Workshops" page for                              details.




DATES FOR 2015 PENNSYLVANIA FARM SHOW: JANUARY 10 through 17.  I'm assuming that our stand will be in the same location as in the past number of years, across from the photography display in the "Family Living" section of Main Hall.  

BE SURE TO STOP BY AND SEE US!  

AND, IF YOU'VE DONE SOME CARVING, BRING SOME OF PIECES ALONG FOR US TO SEE.





VIDEO OF WHITTLING DEMONSTRATION AT 2014 PENNSYLVANIA FARM SHOW:

PCN (Pennsylvania Cable Network) did a great job covering a whittling demonstration in front of our stand on Monday, January 6th, and evidently ran the piece quite a few times throughout the rest of the Farm Show.  We were amazed at how many people said they saw it.  From what a number of viewers told us, we did get across the point that the
"KNIFE NEEDS TO BE SHARP!"

P.S. to the above note about the 2014 Pennsylvania Farm Show and PCN's coverage of the whittling demonstration at my stand:  I ordered the DVD from the PCN Store (www.pcnstore.com).  The video is 28 minutes long and gives a good overview of the whole branch-carving concept.  The PCN cameraman did a great job!  Because of the copyright laws I can't put the video on my website, but at least I can tell folks where they can get it, if they are in
terested.  It's the  "Wood Carving" DVD from the 2014 Farm Show.  It can be ordered by visiting www.pcnstore.com or by calling toll-free at 866-726-8433.  The cost is $29.95 (includes shipping and tax). 
 

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Back on December 31, 2013, my Ford Escort station wagon died.  I think it blew 
a head gasket. In any case, it was not worth repairing.

However, on June 3, 2014 -- I did get a replacement vehicle, a minivan . . . WITH A ROOF RACK!!!  And I was able to attach my new, BIGGER "Country Pitching Machine" to it.

The maple fork to which the heavy duty surgical rubber tubing is connected is quite a bit taller than the fork that was on my Ford Escort station wagon, so I had to hinge it at the base so I can fold it down when when I'm traveling.  Better gas mileage with it down, I'm sure.  And besides, I stand less of a chance of ripping the roof off my van going through some lower than average overpass!!  

 
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE "PITCHING MACHINE" PAGE.

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TO SEE THE CARVING DEMONSTRATION CHRIS DID ON THE DIY NETWORK, GO TO THE AMISH FARM AND HOUSE WEBSITE AND CLICK ON TO THE "RESIDENT ARTISANS" PAGE.  UNDER THE PICTURE OF CHRIS IN HIS SHOP IS A DIRECT LINK TO THE "BRANCH ROOSTER" EPISODE THAT SHOWS FROM START TO FINISH HOW TO CARVE A ROOSTER FROM A FORKED BRANCH.  
www.amishfarmandhouse.com

       
WWW.AMISHFARMANDHOUSE.COM(Resident Artisans page)


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                                   A QUICK INTRODUCTION . . .
                     

     Chris Lubkemann guesses that he started making stuff from wood with a little knife when he was no more than seven years old in the Ucayali River town of Contamana, Peru, on the Amazon jungle side of of the country.  Now, even at close to 70, he still finds it hard to stop climbing trees!  However, if there was a "formal" beginning to his branch-carving, it was the summer between his junior and senior years in college, when he picked up the idea of whittling a rooster from a forked stick while working in the Blue Ridge Mountains of northwestern North Carolina.  When he returned to college in the fall of 1966, he self-employed himself and used his $2.00 or $3.00 Barlow knife to help pay for his school year.  To be sure, a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then!

     Since the late 60's Chris has demonstrated and taught this unique and fun type of wood carving in many parts of the U.S., as well as in a fair number of foreign countries.  People of all ages, from 9 to 90, have picked up the concept and run with it.  Some young people have even used their own pocketknives to pay for their own college expenses!

     Beginning with a single two-sided instruction sheet in the early 70's, Chris has written what are probably the only extensive instructions on what to do with a pocketknife and twigs and branches.  (Obviously, for some projects, other tools may come into play.)  He has also demonstrated widely in schools, conventions, shows, youth and civic organizations, city parks, churches, on television programs . . . and even on radio!  His articles have appeared in CHIP CHATS, magazine of the National Wood Carvers Association, and in WOODCARVING ILLUSTRATED.

     Fox Chapel Publishing has published his four most recent books:

     WHITTLING TWIGS AND BRANCHES  (200 photos, 70 drawings)

   THE LITTLE BOOK OF WHITTLING  (19 projects,380 photos) 

   TREE CRAFT:  35 rustic wood projects that bring the outdoors in

   BIG BOOK OF WHITTLE FUN  (31 projects, 350 photos)

All of these books are widely distributed, and reviews can easily be found by simply searching the title.

Fox Chapel Publishing's website is:  www.FoxChapelPublishing.com


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     From the beginning of April through the end of October, Monday through Saturday, Chris is the "Resident Woodcarver" at The Amish Farm and House, a well known museum farm in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  Guests from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries visit this site that is tucked right in the middle of all the 21st Century hustle and bustle.  The farm brochure says "Where Today Touches History."  Very true!!

     The Amish Farm and House website is:  www.AmishFarmAndHouse.com

     From November through March, Chris works mainly out of his home, doing programs, demonstrations, and workshops.  At times he's at his shop at the farm, so if you want to touch base with him, feel free to give him a call:  (717) 299-5955.

   

From the beginning of April through the end of October, Monday through Saturday, I'm in my shop located in the 200-year-old corn barn on the grounds of the Amish Farm and House.  To be sure, some visitors to this popular, historical, and educational venue are somewhat surprised to see an "English" (i.e., not Amish) craftsman located here, but for the past 17 or so years I've been a good source of information.  Though I myself am not Amish, I do have lots of Amish friends and neighbors and can answer quite a few questions about life in Lancaster County.  Besides, being outside on the farm itself for all these years, I've become the unofficial "union rep" for our animal population, especially for the herd of pygmy goats.  Over time I've even developed into a fairly experienced "midwife" (I guess that's what you'd call it) for the goats, having delivered quite a few! 

In any case, visit the farm, stop by my shop, and I'll even introduce you to to a bunch of my "kids."

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The photo immediately below shows the Swiss Army "Tinker" I've whittled with for many years.  You can see that the smaller blade has been really worn down.  I'm guessing that this particular knife has been involved in more than $120,000.00 worth of carvings...over a good period of time, of course! 

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The pocketknife on the branches and piece of bark below is a Swiss Army "Hiker" that I modified in response to a request by Carl Elsener, Jr., the CEO of Victorinox/Swiss Army Knives in Switzerland.  I had written Mr. Elsener, at the suggestion of a friend whom I consider to be one of the top knife experts in the U.S., telling him how much I had used and appreciated my Swiss Army knives, and asking if he would consider making a knife that would have two small modifications which would make for a knife that was ideal (right out of the box!) for the type of carving I do:  (1)  The knife handle would not have the tab that holds the keyring -- the tab being something I always have to grind off so it doesn't dig into my thumb when I'm working with the small blade.  (2)  The small blade would be tapered to a finer point, allowing me to make tighter radius cuts.  And to top it all off, I told Mr. Elsener that the saw blade on the "Hiker" model would be ideal to have as well, for the times I'd find a good twig or branch and not have my pruning shears or saw at hand.  In other words, a modified Swiss Army "Hiker" would be perfect!!  In any case, he appreciated what I was doing and asked me to send him a "Hiker" knife the way I wanted it and said he would make me a couple of prototype knives.

Before I sent the knife I had modified, I took a little bunch of birch branches and a piece of bark, took a "before" photo of them, and then started to see what I could get out of them with the knife I was sending to Switzerland.
So . . . here's the "before" picture:


. . .And following are a few "after" shots.  (No other wood was used beyond what you see above!)




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TRUE TO HIS WORD, CARL ELSENER DID SEND ME A NUMBER OF PROTOTYPE MODIFIED SWISS ARMY "HIKERS."  EVERY ONE WORKED BEAUTIFULLY!  THE KNIFE BELOW IS THE FIRST ONE I PULLED FROM THE BOX AND CARVED WITH IT JUST AS IT WAS. THE ROOSTER AND PICKLE FORK WERE THE FIRST PROJECTS.



. . . Hopefully, there will be more chapters written on the story of this knife!  Already, in the relatively short time I have had it, my "Hiker" has been involved in countless whittling projects . . . plus a myriad of other jobs that have nothing to do with carving!

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        BOOKS


WHITTLING TWIGS AND BRANCHES

THE LITTLE BOOK OF WHITTLING

TREE CRAFT: 35 rustic wood projects that bring the outdoors in

BIG BOOK OF WHITTLE FUN

              All four of these book are available from Fox Chapel Publishing but are also widely distributed in bookstores and woodworking supply stores.  The last three in the above list have also been published in German, and the middle two are available in Russian.

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Having spent a good part of my youth climbing trees in the deep interior of Brazil and Peru (and still doing a fair amount of tree climbing), I thought it would be fun to clamber up to the top of the Chinese chestnut tree just outside my shop . . . the day after my 70th birthday.  To be sure, my very sweet wife yells at me for doing such stuff, but she eventually calms down.  I guess once you've been bitten by the tree-climbing bug, you're stuck shinnying up trees for the rest of your life!
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