Many talents and skills are passed down from ancestors. Numerous examples could be seen during the Juneau County Historical Society tours and entertainment at the annual Holiday Open House at the Boorman House in Mauston for the last two weekends.
One such talent was apparent in Carol Fischer, who demonstrated wood carving Dec. 4 and 5 at the event.
Fischer of Mauston, said her father Clifford Scoville, deceased, was a carpenter and she "wanted to work in wood like he did."
The first thing she carved was a wood spirit out of cottonwood bark for her father about a year before he died. Going back further in time, being skilled in woodworking has been a family trait.
Fischer said that a wooden human yoke used to carry water that was made by her great-great uncle in the 1800s is displayed in the Boorman House.
In addition to inheriting a love of wood crafting, learning the tools of the trade was a must in honing her craft.
Fischer said, "The carvings I had on display at the Boorman House were from cottonwood, basswood, exotic woods including Bop, paduka, cherry wood burl and Bocote. I normally carve on basswood or butternut."
She added that the 64 types of soft and hard woods she uses originate from all over the world, including a few from Wisconsin.
She found the ones that handle the best are kiln-dried. The items she uses to sculpt are few.
"I use palm tools and knives and power tools, such as a Dremel," Fischer said. "I carve in the round, which would be in three dimensions; relief carve, which is flat and carved on one side, and chip carving, which is more geometric designs like Christmas ornaments."
She also creates a Scandinavian flat plane carving, a technique featuring three planes when looking at it from the side, caricatures, which have exaggerated features and are not in realistic proportions, along with whimsical pieces.
Though she now has access to supplies and carving clubs and classes, it was not as readily available 10 years ago when she began her hobby.
She said, "Then I couldn't find anything on the Internet, and now it is all around.
"There is a place in Coon Valley, called Skumsrud Heritage Farm, where I attended some classes to learn how to carve. It is part of the Norskedelan Norwegian Heritage [museum] with classes [hosted] by the Coulee Region Wood Carvers."
Though she has come across other wood carvers' works around Juneau County, she has not been privy to meeting them, but has found clubs outside the region.
"I belong to the Wisconsin River Carvers in Wisconsin Rapids and the Capitol Carvers Club in Madison and often carpool to events with other carvers from Tomah," Fischer said.
"I have been to carving weekend schools in Iowa, North Dakota, Texas and Nebraska, and my clubs have shows every fall."
In addition, some of those hosting carvers also provide scrimshaw and wood burning classes for family members who accompany them.