Notes From the 'Net
By Mike Bloomquist, with Doug Evans and Loren Woodard
Email Mike at m.bloomquistATverizonDOTnet or visit his web, Wooden Dreams Woodcarving


Sheesh! Seems like I was just wishing you all a good start to your summer, and now it's coming to a close.  Well, hope you got to see new carving stuff, buy new carving stuff, carve new carving stuff, make new friends, and visit old friends.  I know I have and it's been a great year so far.  Not enough hours in the day sometimes, but then sleep is highly overrated <G>.

Meanwhile, re-fill that lemonade, or ice tea, or "whatever" again and lets look at some Notes from the Net.  First, we add to our ever expanding list of wood species that can be carved...

Spruce for Carving

My favorite Hat Lady, Merrilee asks the question....

Good morning, All!
I have a question . Is spruce good for caving? We had great winds through here last night and a friend had a spruce tree go down so he called and wanted to know if it were good for carving and did I want it. I don't think I do because its in big pieces but maybe some of the other members of your club might. So that's why I asked... Thanks for your invaluable information once again!

Denny Bell answers first...

My experiences with Spruce have not been very good. It depends on what you going to carve, but I didn't care for it. Besides, you will have to wait awhile before it is dry enough to carve. I am getting too old to have to wait for my next piece of wood...

Denny Bell
Check out my carvings at < http://www.cedarstump.us/ >

Sally Nye recommends it for carving fanbirds....

Merrilee, spruce is good for fan-carving. Offer it to your own club members ...or neighboring clubs. You want to work on it while it is fresh.

Then Sally adds....

The sooner you can get the log bucked-up the better
(especially this time of year). You can run a hose on the log to
keep it moist and also keep it in the shade. That will buy you some time. Get the blanks from the rounds, place them in a pot of water & simmer about 1-2 hrs. Then you can store them in plastic bags in the freezer.

Over time, the wood can get a bit rubbery in the freezer but it is still workable. As with anything, the more skilled you are at
riving, the more you will compensate for that condition. Thawing the wood by using hot water can help.


The Wizard chimes in...

<>If this was a large tree, check out the growth rings, if they are nice and tight, see if any luthier in your area might want some. spruce is used for the tops of a lot of instruments.

Richard L. Rombold
489 N. 32nd. St.
Springfield, Or .97478

Bill relates an experience one of his students had with spruce....


One of my relief carving students undertook and small carving in spruce. I warned him of the difficulties he'd face with this wood, but he had good reason to choose it. Actually, the carving turned out really well. But he was careful to not force the wood to hold too much detail, and he maintained VERY SHARP edges on his tools.

Blessings and Peace,


Bill Judt
46 Harvard Crescent,
Saskatoon, SK, Canada
Woodcarvings by Bill Judt

Bob doesn't recommend it either...

I've only tried to carve with spruce once and that was about 20 years ago and it was the last time I've used it and I live in the middle of a spruce forrest.  Here in South East Alaska I use mostly yellow cedar.
Robert Fudge
Ketchikan Alaska

But the yellow cedar reference caught someones attention...

Hi Robert,
I saw your reply on the woodcarvers site. I was wondering is you had a source for some old growth Yellow cedar? I have been looking for some 'quarter sawed' pieces to use for guitar tops. All I can find here is flat sawed. I have carved some also, it polishes up nice, and I have started to make a tansu cabinet (Japanese style cabinet) for the wife.

Richard L. Rombold
489 N. 32nd. St.
Springfield, Or .97478

Which got a response from Robert's neighbor (well, a neighbor on an Alaskan scale)...

Hello Richard...

I live on the next island over from Ketchikan... and I get wood from a small sawmill there. The guy's name is Larry Jackson, His business name is "Tongass Forest Enterprises". His phone number is 907-225-1501... his cell is
907-617-4542. Web site address: http://www.akforestenterprises.com
Tell him Steve Lankerd in Metlakatla sent you..... He can just about custom cut anything you want I think.

Best Regards,


Steve Lankerd Sr
Metlakatla, Alaska


\Think I'll be checking that last tip out myself... yellow cedar makes a fine Native American style flute.

Now an ever reoccuring (and useful) discussion on copyrights...

Copyrights and Carving ...

Larry asks avery good question....

Dear list members,
I belong to a small carving club in rural North Carolina.We recently began talking about selling carvings. Most of us being new at this, we talked about what you could and could not legally sell. Most of us have purchased rough outs with instructions from time to time. All of us have copied free patterns from the internet. All of us have made carvings from patterns and instructions found in the carving magazines we purchase. Morally and probably legally? we need to give credit for rough out and/or pattern, but the question which we really have is: What can a person legally sell in a show or at a craft fair or in an art gallery as a conscientious, wood carver concerned about the state of the art?

Thank you in advance for your replies, and as I have learned, Keep Them Sharp,

Rocky Hock, N.C.

And Ivan comes back with a very good answer (as usual)...

This is my general understanding about copyrights.

The originator owns all rights to the material. He/she can choose to give away or sell some, none, or all of those rights. By buying the book or magazine, you purchase certain rights as expressed in the copyright notice. The best way to find out what you have purchased is to look at the copyright notice. Most often the authors want to protect reproduction of the pattern, because that is what they are selling. Often they grant the carver the right to make and sell carvings based on the patterns, but not to reproduce or sell the patterns. There are a few who present the pattern "for instructional purposes only" and restrict even the selling of carvings made from the patterns. They have that right. Remember, by buying the book you are not automatically buying all rights, or even necessarily the commercial rights to the material. Some authors offer the patterns with the assumption that they will be used strictly by amateurs and not by people who are in carving for commercial purposes.

Enforcement is up to the holder of the copyright. People with clout, Disney, for example, have much more success in protecting their products from unauthorized reproduction than others. The average carver has no such power. A lot of unauthorized copying takes place because there is a misunderstanding of the rights or an inability--or reluctance--of the holder of the copyright to enforce them.

Since most of the authors are ordinary folks like you and me, some don't care whether you sell carvings from their patterns or not. Some care but are "too nice" to do anything about it.

Chances are, however, the author is reachable. I'd bet most would appreciate being asked for permission if there is a doubt.

Ivan Whillock Studio
122 NE 1st Avenue
Faribault, MN 55021
Visit my website at
Visit my Picture Trail album at

A question like this always brings out our best contributors, so it was no surprise to find a response from Joe Dillet....

Hi Ivan,

Thanks for your thoughtful response to this copyright question.

My teachers also taught us that when studying the masters, such as sketching their work, you give the artist credit along with your name. Such as Joe Dillett after (the original artist's name). Most woodcarving artists today offer their ideas and patterns as a study guide to help other carvers study along their way to discovering their own artist's voice.

Another thought about copyrights. Copyrights can be sold. There have been cases I've sold the copyright for more then the original and to a different person. A foundry commissioned me to do a Last Supper buying only the copyright and the right to cast 5 patterns off my original. I later sold the original to a different person with the understanding that they did not have the right to make any copies. I have done the same for commissioned lithographs.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552

http://www.thecarvingshop.net [business web site]
http://www.carvingmagazine.com ['Ask Joe' column]

A viewpoint from an author of patterns....

Hello Larry,
I've been a school teacher for a long time and the copyright issue comes up regularly. I'm no expert but here's my take on the questions you're asking.
1. Selling your own work carved from someone else's pattern should not be any problem, legally or morally. It's your work, afterall, even if you looked at or worked from a pattern not your own. You are not selling something that is not your own.
2. Selling someone else's pattern - now that's a problem!
I expect people to use the free chip carving patterns I give away. If they sell their finished chip carving to someone else, good for them. Don't go selling the pattern I gave away, but sell all your own chip carvings as much as you'd like.

Mush from Maine adds...

I am not a lawyer, but I do design my own carvings. I have also spent a lot of time reading and trying to understand copyright law...and that's not easy LOL.  There is such a thing called a "derivative work" The following is a direct quote from the US gov't page on copyright:

"Who May Prepare a Derivative Work?

Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work. The owner is generally the author or someone who has obtained rights from the author."

I don't use other peoples' designs, but if I were going to, especially if I were to sell carvings made from them, I would definitely check with the original designer before making copies" IMHO

By the way, a work of art automatically carries an implied copyright, so any time you copy one without the artists' permission, it is technically an infringement

Copyright information at http://www.copyright.gov/

Marcia (aka Mush)

Byron makes an observation...

There's a lot more to law than reading the statutes.  Copywrite laws, at least from my observation, require a lot of knowledge of court actions to fully understand the law, and how it's interpreted and implemented.  Note that in Mush's quote there's no mention of the definination of "new version" or how it relates to media or how dissimilar do a work have to be.  Those are the things that the courts decide and without knowledge of what the courts have done it's really hard to make an interpretation.

From my observations of carving publications I contend that there's very little in the carving world that's not copied from something else, including Mush's works.  Not trying to offend, just pointing out that it's very difficult to determine what is a copywrite violation and what isn't.


What follows is umm... a debate, but a well informed debate.  I include it here because it has good content and at the very least provides food-for-thought regarding copyrights and our woodcarvings. Anyway, Mush replies...

The Gov't web page on copyright at http://www.copyright.gov/ has some pretty clear definitions of "derivatives" and other aspects of copyright. I just didn't paste it all here. Most states also have an organization called "Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts" where you can also get some good information at little or no cost. In recent years, copyright law has made some huge strides intended to protect the artist more than ever. IMHO, by avoiding copying, or at least by asking for permission from the original artist, there will be no need to worry about the law. Unfortunately there will always be people who feel for one reason or another that it is alright to copy someone else's work.

Byron, I'm not quite sure how you meant that reference to my work. :)

Marcia (aka Mush)

Byron replies...

All laws are subject to interpretation by the courts. That's the way our constitution is written. So no matter how any individual interprets the statutes the courts have the final say. We pay lawyers to search court records to attempt to determine how an individual case is likely to be interpreted. In every case some lawyers are right and some are wrong.

Now what do you do about it? How do you deal with possible copyright infringement, that's up to each individual to decide. As for me, I do my own design with computer copies of the my sketches so I have some proof that I created the design. I also avoid something looking like well known icons. From that point on I take my chances. I think that's what most of us do.

I wouldn't take a pattern from any publication or rough out, carve it and attempt to sell that carving for several reasons. The biggest one is that somebody else is already doing that.

As far as your works go, you didn't invent the characteristics that make your carvings a Santa. Therefore those characteristics were copied from someplace, originally from somebody that had either a registered copyright or an implied copyright. That's why I say from looking at carvings at shows, in publications, and the internet almost all are copied from someplace.

Byron Kinnaman
abkinnaman at earthlink.net

Mush's rebutal...

1. A concept or idea is not copyrightable. "Copyright protects 'original works of authorship' that are fixed in a tangible form of
expression. " (Ref: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#wci )

2. "A work that was created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978, is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. " (Ref: http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ1.html#hlc )

3 For items created prior to January 1, 1978, copyrights, through a series of legislations, were extended to last for a total of 95 years.

SO......the concept of Santa is not copyrightable...specific designs of Santa are. I have never seen a Santa playing an African drum, or a violin, riding on a goose, carrying an elephant or dried flowers in a basket, or tangled in lights. They were not taken or in any way based on anyone else's designs..the Santas I carve are my own designs, totally. There is a difference between using the "idea" or "concept" of Santa and copying a specific Santa design. According to copyright law, then, I cannot stop anyone from carving a Santa playing an African Drum....that is just an idea. However, I can take issue with someone copying my design for a Santa playing an African Drum. If you really want to push the matter, you could say that every Santa that anyone carves, draws or in any way depicts, wearing a fur-trimmed red suit is based on the Thomas Nast rendition which has become a commonly accepted "concept" of Santa. However, since Thomas Nast died around 1902, then any copyrights attached to his renditions of Santa have expired.

The issue with copyright is a financial one, basically. The problem is with making financial gain from someone else's design...or selling it or derivatives of it. I spend many hours, often months or even years pondering a design, sketching it, resketching it and working up final patterns. Is it fair for someone else to use that design for their own benefit? That is what copyright law is intended to protect.

Marcia (aka Mush)

Joe brings more insight...

Prior to 1978 a copyright was not so easily implied, so it was necessary to register your copyright to insure protection. Prior to 1978 I was selling a series of colonial plaques, every year adding one or two more to the series. I knew that there was a religious group (not mentioning the name) that would purchase my new designs to reproduce them. After several years they showed me that they had the copyright on my designs and ordered me to stop making them. I was able to quickly show them that my copyright predated there's and that they were infringing on my copyright. They quickly stopped reproducing my designs. If I had not registered or had proof of date of origin they could have forced me to stop making my own design.

Byron makes a good point about documenting when you created your design. One method suggested by my attorney is to print a letter with pictures of your design and have it notarized. Keeping copies of these letters handy can quickly settle any issue without getting into a legal battle.

Marcia, thanks for including the facts. One point not covered is that I believe the heirs can renew the copyright indefinitely. So one can never assume that the copyright has run out like a patent runs out.

Joe Dillett
The Carving Shop
645 E. LaSalle St. Suite 3
Somonauk, IL. 60552

And a final one from Mush who suggested getting back to what's really important <G>...

From what I can make out at http://www.copyright.gov/circs/circ15.html, copyright terms are actually divided. Works copyrighted before January of 1978 were subject to a renewal system. As laws were added, the term of copyright extended. It is my understanding that in order to extend that original 28-year term, a renewal had to be filed before the end of the 28th year. Newer legislation in 1978 and 1992 made renewal of the first 28-year term automatic for works copyrighted between January 1, 1964, and December 31, 1977, so filing for renewal is optional and the term is 95 years. Works created on or after January 1, 1978 are automatically protected from the moment of creation and are "ordinarily" given a term "enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death. " As far as I can tell there is no provision for indefinite renewal, but that would take a phone call to be sure. And I really need to get back to work!!!

Thanks for the discussion!!

Marcia (aka Mush)

Ivan wrapped up what I call "Part I" with an amusing and insightful observation...

In reading the emails I've come to two firm conclusions: "Everything is original" and "Nothing is original."

Some people define original as "different" and argue that no two things are ever alike, even if you try to make them so, thus, EVERYTHING is original. We've had several writers express that point of view.

On the other hand, God was the originator of everything, and therefore everything is a copy of something and therefore NOTHING is original. We've had several email writers express that view.

It proves one of the curiosities of language: you can frame issues to "prove" opposites.

Yes, but . . .

Trouble is, the "everything is original" argument doesn't work as a defense when Disney threatens a lawsuit over your carving of Mickey Mouse. Hobbyists might do fine with the everything is original philosophy--until they try to sell. Then they should know that there are rules that don't accept that concept.

Nor does the "nothing is original" argument work when artists are trying to protect their right to make a living on their work. "Disney copied God's creation of a mouse, therefore I'm justified in copying Disney." "Every artist copies something" won't work in court either, nor in art shows that demand "original work."

New sellers need a workable understanding of the concept of "original work" that would respect the creations of others and would not get carvers into legal trouble for copying.

A workable definition of "originality" for artists has to lie somewhere between the "nothing is original" and the "everything is original" arguments.

Ivan Whillock Studio
122 NE 1st Avenue
Faribault, MN 55021

There was more very useful material and amusing interchange, but I'm going to save it for a "Part II" and promise to include other, less dry topics.  Something like "Carving Wet Pine A.K.A the David Sabol Method".   Hmmmm... but right know I'm thinking of and animal caricature for Mush and Byron... something titled "Legal Eagle"... probably should copyright it now ;-).


OK, Gang, that's all for this issue.  Keep them edges keen, the chips piled high, and the rest of this summer. 

Keep on Carvin'
-Mike Bloomquist->

Please take some time and check out the wood carving lists on the Internet. There is a lot of knowledge free for the asking on all of the list serves.

For information regarding the various email lists for woodcarvers, visit The Carvers' Companion Resource Files, or click the links below.


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Editor's Note: Disclaimers and Cautions