Several years ago while visiting Glacier Park, I dropped into The John L. Clarke Museum and Western Ary Gallery. Being a wood carver, I was amazed at his work. As a bird carver, there are scores of books on the decoy carvers from the early 20th century - I have seen no information on wildlife carvers from that era. - too bad - I considered purchasing an original carving but after seeing the price, I ended up purchasing a bronze reproduction.
As a woodcarver, I naturally wanted to carve one of these bears. From my bronze bear, I made this pattern and carved several bears. Feel free to down load the picture, and have fun.
The original carving is 6" long. 3 3/4 inches high. 1 3/4 inches wide.
As a carver, I use woods such as Basswood, Jelutong, and Tupelo. While working in Milwaukie, John was able to use such wood as Basswood, Walnut, Maple, Poplar, Oak, Mahagony and other wood that would be used to create beautiful church alters. When he moved to Midvale (East Glacier Park) he began carving with Cottonwood. Along the banks of Cut Bank Creek, The Milk River, and the Two Medicine River were large stands of Cottonwood trees. John would make arrangements for a specific tree to be cut and milled; once it dried, he would create one of his carvings. Of course, some carvings demanded the beautiful grain pattern of walnut, mahogany and/or maple - at that point he would place special orders.
Here are pictures of a few more of John's small carvings. One of these days I will develop patterns and put them on this page. John's mountain goat carvings would become the model for the emblem of the Great Northern Railroad and his bear carvings were said to be so realistic that you could smell them.
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