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Orca

10 feet × 3 feet. Wagner collection.
Carved from western red cedar.

Carved from very close- grained, light-hued, old-growth western red cedar.

The material for this piece was selected by the client, who is one of the partners in Pacific Western Timber. The cedar was truly the finest I have ever had the pleasure to work with.

I generally make detailed drawings for a project like this. This allows the client a preview and helps any assistants visualize where we’re going. In this case, my apprentice Dave Franklin and I worked from a very rough sketch and just went for it, designing as we went. Sometimes the magic just seems to work. It’s one of my favorites. Represented from top to bottom are a raven, a bear in the moon, flukes of an orca, a red-tailed hawk, two king salmon, and the head and pectoral fins of the orca.


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Seeking the Light

10 feet × 3 feet. Crandall collection.
Carved from western red cedar,
with acrylic paint.

I was touched by an account the client related to me regarding his son at the age of eight years. The boy was snorkeling in Hawaii when a dolphin swam up and gently took hold of his foot. Pulling his foot loose, the boy swam around and grasped the tail of the porpoise, which made no effort to flee. The two continued swimming, alternating their roles for a time. This experience had a lasting effect on him.

Apparently the boy is very intelligent with a curious nature, never tiring of learning. The sun on this pole represents light and is a metaphor for the knowledge the boy seeks. Other representations are a thunderbird, two oystercatchers, mountain sheep, frog, waves, and anonymous floral details, all of which have special significance for the client.

Sea Hunter

7 feet x 2 feet. Erwert collection.
Carved from western red cedar,
with acrylic paint

The main figure is a killer whale depicted with his head down. Delicate painted lines representing a wake curl away from his blowhole elaborated as a human face blowing spray. The hunter is shown above with harpoon in hand, flanked by two salmon. The pole is surmounted by an Eagle who is grasping the whale’s pectoral fins with three “watchmen” on his head.

The client wanted an interior house post and wasn’t particularly concerned over what it portrayed except that it include a killer whale. I have represented killer whales in this general way often.

Harris Pole

14 feet x 32 inches. Harris collection.
Carved from western red cedar
with acrylic paint.

Tom and Linda Harris have been friends of my family for many years. I was delighted when they asked me to carve a totem pole for them representing sea creatures and featuring an orca. From the top are, Eagle, Octopus, Shark holding two salmon, Orca and a Frog obscured by foliage.


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Wilderness Lodge Pole

54 feet x 3 feet (width at top) and 5 feet
(width at bottom). Disney World. Carved from
red cedar, with acrylic paint.

Each of these totem poles constructed for the Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World is constructed of two 27-foot sections spliced together. The characters and their placement were decided by Disney World’s consultants.

I made very detailed drawings for this project because there were to be three assistants helping me, Pat Huggins, Loren White, and Scott Jensen. I drew front, side, and 3/4 views, and lots of cross sections. In this way the client, the contractor, and all the carvers could see exactly what the end product would look like.

Hatch pole

27 ft. x 3 feet. Carved from red cedar
with acrylic paint.

Marshall and Helen Hatch had for years wanted a totem pole family tree and deliberated at great length how to represent each member of the extended family. I was given a genealogy roster and, based on the family’s suggestions, drew up the plans.

Helen’s father and siblings, as well as the Hatches’ three daughters, are portrayed as humans. Helen’s mother has the form of a grizzly bear, apparently due to her personality. Helen herself is in the form of an eagle holding a speaker’s staff symbolizing her position as family matriarch. Marshall is in the guise of a raven and all the grandchildren are represented as salmon. The family dog is portrayed as himself.

A great blue heron has been a permanent resident at the Hatches’ summer beach home and holds special significance for them. A representation of him surmounts the pole.

I was assisted on this project by Pat Huggins and Debbie Knight.

Jay Hawker

12 feet. Artist's collection.
Carved from western red cedar,
with acrylic paint.

The characters on this sculpture are the sun, Steller’s jay, two red-tailed hawks on the arms of a carver who is a caricature of me wearing a Meti style tunic and holding two adzes, a “D” adze, and an “elbow” adze.

The tunic is a stylized representation of one that I commissioned from Angela Swedberg, who is in my opinion, the best “quiller” and “beader” on the continent.

Near the base of the sculpture, a hawk’s face fills the ovoid-shaped hip joint of the jay. The hawk’s legs are an addition.


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The Prince and the Salmon People

6 foot x 12 inches. Artist's collection.
Carved from red cedar.

This is a well known story from the Tsimshian people from northern British Columbia that describes how a young prince was born. I was inspired when a client commissioned me to carve a 27 foot totem pole to represent the story. The salmon is the foundation of the sculpture with his head at the base and the body running upward. The shaman is straddling the salmon around the base of its tail brandishing a spear. On this 6 foot version, the shaman is carrying a large hook in one hand with a coiled up cedar bark line in the other. Below the prince is climbing out of the salmon’s back. Both the shaman and the prince are wearing their salmon charms.


Full Size

Raven's Getaway

10 feet x 32 inches. Artist's collection.
carved from red cedar.

The theme depicted on this pole is the popular story of Raven bringing light to the world.

Once the world was in darkness, tough times for all the creatures of the world, including humans. Raven wanted to fix the situation. Being magic, he decided to fly to a smoke hole in the sky to the Sky Chief's house where there was a closely guarded box that held all the light of the universe.

Disguised as a hemlock needle floating in the creek, Raven was swallowed by the chief's daughter while she drank. She became pregnant and gave birth to him in human form.

Winning his grandfather's favor as he grew, he asked if he could see into the box and play with the great ball of light. Raven grabbed it and flew out of the smoke hole and back to the world. He threw pieces of the ball into the sky forming the stars. A large one was the moon lighting the night. The largest became the sun lighting the world every day.

Portfolio: totems
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Orca

10 feet × 3 feet. Wagner collection.
Carved from western red cedar.

Seeking the Light

10 feet × 3 feet. Crandall collection.
Carved from western red cedar,
with acrylic paint.

Sea Hunter

7 feet x 2 feet. Erwert collection.
Carved from western red cedar,
with acrylic paint