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2002 West Yellowstone Fish Carvers Rendezvous

September 9-13, 2002

By Alex Bisso

As it was last year, the West Yellowstone Fish Carvers Rendezvous was an exceptionally enjoyable event. Royanne Baum (from Provo, UT) did a good job of organizing the event and Johnny and Louise Stevens were great hosts at the Lionshead RV Resort, 7 miles West of West Yellowstone on Hwy 20 where the event was held.

Most carvers stayed at the Lionshead which offers recreational vehicle hook-ups and tent sites, a small restaurant, an adjacent Super 8 Motel, small spring fed creeks and a couple of fishing ponds. Some however, stayed in the town of West Yellowstone with its many interesting shops and galleries, right outside the West entrance of Yellowstone National Park.

Carving seminars this year included 4-day classes by Ted Richmond (Shawnee, Kansas) and George Kruth (Moon, Pennsylvania) and a surprise guest instructor, Jeff Compton (Nisswa, Minnesota).

I attended Ted Richmond's class on interpretive carving in west Texas juniper, which proved to be very informative and rewarding (and some hard work). Ted provided in-the-rough pieces of west Texas juniper and base material for participants to select from and I used a piece of MT juniper driftwood that I brought with me (an option available to all). There were no restrictions on what to carve although everyone in our class of five elected to carve some type of a fish. Day one instructions include design elements, planning, wood selection, references and initial drawings and the blocking out began. Day two instructions included modifications after uncovering wood surprises, how to repair cracks or breaks, a photo review of some natural finish carvings and continued blocking out and refining. Day three continued the blocking out and refining with further instruction on useful tools, grain and blemish challenges and fixes and demonstration of a sample area prepared for finish.
On day four the real refining work was begun in earnest. Instructions covered rough and finish sanding techniques, application of finish to sample areas and individual guidance to participants on finishing their pieces. After using Ted's sanding techniques down to 1500 grit and polishing with a leather and yellow rouge, the pieces shone with no finish at all. However, a small amount of gun stock finish was then used on the polished areas to make them shine like glass. It was a great class. A photo of the piece I made (completed at home after the class) is attached.


Although I did not attend George Kruth's class on making habitat, I could tell that it was interesting and fun for the five participants working there. From what I could tell they used a plethora of techniques to simulate natural environments. They took super sculpt or clay or such material to the woods to make impressions different natural surfaces (bark, etc.) and made sticks, logs, stumps, lily pads, plants, water, etc. It looked like fun and in the end they carved a miniature bass to go on the habitat they made.

For me it was also a nice treat to have Jeff Compton come up and present a class on mounting/display considerations and methods. He discussed proportions and design elements of three different display schemes using foam cut-outs to demonstrate his methods. I was amazed at how quickly and deftly he cut out bases, fish, rocks and branches from the foam to demonstrate the mounting considerations.

Other perks for attending the West Yellowstone events included:

The 2003 Edition

Dates: August 11 - 15, 2003
Location: Lionshead Resort located 7 miles west of West Yellowstone, MT on Highway 20

Instructors and Class Description

Bob Berry
- In Bob's 5-day class you will carve, texture and paint a 14" Rainbow or Cutthroat Trout. The trout will be carved with a wall-mounted habitat. The price of the class is $500 plus blank/cast.

George Kruth - In George's 5-day class you will paint a casting of a Drake Green-winged Teal, followed by your carving of a "smoothie" for you to finish at home. The price of the class is $475 plus blank/cast.

David Sabol - In David's 5-day class you will carve either a Santa Riding a Trout or one of David's storybook characters. You will carve, detail and paint your piece. The price of the class is $200 plus blank/cast.

Lori Corbett -  In Lori's 5-day class you will carve a life-sized Mountain Bluebird, using a cast for painting and reference. The eyes and feet are included. Mounting will be covered as time allows. The price of the class is $575 plus blank/cast.

Kirt Curtis - In Kirt's 5-day class you will carve, texture and paint a Bull and Cow Elk Head and Cape. The price of the class will be $250 plus blank.

Registration: Deadline for registration is July 3, 2003. Half of the class fee is due at the time of registration and the remainder no later than 2 weeks prior to the start of the class. Classes are limited to 12 students, first come, first served.
For further information or to register, contact Royann Baum by phone at 801-373-5729 or e-mail at rbaum1650@aol.com
You may also be able to register and pay on-line at Royann's web site: http://www.royannbaum.com

Lodging: Lionshead RV Park (May thru Oct) 406-646-7662 or Winter at 817-646 9584
More information at http://www.wyellowstone.com/lionshead

Super 8 Motel (adjacent to Lionshead and open all year) 406-646-9584 or 1-800-800-8000
Note: For those who are a bit more rugged and want to save some $$$, the Lionshead also has tent sites with associated shower/bathroom facilities.

General Information:  West Yellowstone offers a wide variety of restaurants, shops, entertainment, and fly-fishing guides. The IMAX Theatre, the Grizzly Discovery Center, and the Yellowstone Museum provide a wealth of information about the geography, wildlife, and history of the area. Playmill Theatre presents live entertainment, music and comedy. For more information see the West Yellowstone website (http://www.wyellowstonel.com)

Spouses of carving class attendees are encouraged to attend as there will be a variety of non-carving activities available, including guided beginner-level fly fishing trips, sightseeing and shopping trips, and crafts.
There will be a steak and chicken cook-out on Friday evening (included in the class fee)

I attend the first (1991) and second (1992) carving rendezvous' in West Yellowstone and really enjoyed them. The brochures for the event contain more information about each of the instructors so if you think you might want to attend, I suggest at least calling Royann and requesting a brochure.
Hope to see you there.

Alex Bisso
Billings, MT