The Totem Pole

                The totem pole was a project to celebrate the 20th anniversary of SOLO, a school for Wilderness Medicine in Conway, NH. The owners of the school wanted to do something different to mark this milestone, so when they approached me about carving a totem pole to adorn the inside of the main lodge at the school: how could I say no?
                My accomplice in this project was my then neighbor and friend Hank Hubbell. Hank is gone now, but he was a delight, and a talented carver. hank-with-model.jpgNeither of us had ever carved anything like this, bark-removal.jpgbut that was part of the attraction. I made a scale model, and then Hank and I started to shape a huge white pine trunk that had been seasoning for a year. We first cut the trunk into four smaller, more manageable parts, because the finished totem would have to be moved into the main lodge of the school.
                We used a variety of tools, and in fact, the-team-and-board.jpghad to make some special adzes just for this project. The real the-back.jpgtrick was to pace ourselves. There was so much to do that it was very tempting to thrash away and wear ourselves out. We found that if we worked several hours a day, not only did we not burn out, but the time in between work sessions often generated good suggestions on how to improve our carving techniques.
               We worked consistently top-front-back.jpgover several months. Finally, the orca.jpgpieces were ready to transport inside and assemble. This process was, basically, one of; “many hands make for light work”. The hardest part was getting enough people together and organizing them to keep the scene safe.

              When the totem was up and in place, there complete.jpgwas a celebration, and some coverage in the local newspapers. For me, however, the best part of the project was getting to know Hank better.


                 Hank Hubbell working on the totem pole




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