So there you are, out for a little Sunday drive. You've made it past Chicago, heading north up the I-90. When you get to Madison, some mysterious force compells you to get off the expressway and head west on US-18 until you reach the Village of Mount Horeb, a nice little town in the south of Wisconsin. For the normal tourist, a visit to Little Norway and the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum alone are worth the trip.
If you're a woodcarver, however, you're in wood chip heaven, for you've found the Trollway, the home of the Trolls of Mount Horeb. No little fuzzy-headed Norse trolls these, but good, big, solid trolls, arrayed (for the most part) along the main drag through Mount Horeb.
So from where, might you ask, do these trolls come? It's a wonderful little bit of irony, for in this area of strong Norse heritage, the trolls are the product of the skillful hands and imagination of a carver of Irish descent named Michael Feeney.
Long-time readers of Chip Chats may have seen a few of Mike Feeney's trolls in past issues; WOM is pleased to present a much more extensive tour of the denizens of the Trollway.
One of the first impressions upon seeing one of Feeney's trolls in person is the sheer size of the carvings. Never mind the fact that most sit upon a goodly sized chunk of the tree from which they were carved. The pedestal aside, these are BIG carvings, larger then most of us will ever carve. The Gardener Troll, the first you will encounter while heading west on the Trollway, is a good example. The Gardener Troll towers over Feeney, and most any other human that wanders by.
< Mike Feeney with the Gardener Troll
A Troll commission typically starts with drawings; lots of them, as Feeney works to refine the design ideas. Once the "final" drawing is complete, a clay model is likely to follow. That may be reworked until Feeney arrives at a final vision he likes. Then it's time to apply tools to wood.
The trolls are carved from logs in the neighborhood of four feet in diameter and fourteen feet long, with a fair amount of that buried once the troll is finished. That means that much of Feeney's troll carving is done on scaffolding, either behind his shop or on-site. That results in a lot of clambering up and down with chainsaws, mallet and gouges and other pointy, sharp objects, adding to the difficulty of these pieces.
< At work on the Peddler Troll
For a slide show of the Groundskeeper Troll being carved click HERE and then click on the "Details" button.
When the day comes that a piece is finally finished, it is trucked to the final destination, hoisted from the truck and installed in it's hole. For a slide show of the delivery and installation of the Woodsman Troll, click HERE and then click the "Details" button.
Feeney provides each new troll host with a complete set of instructions for the care and feeding of their new family member. There is also a great deal of information to be had regarding the New World Troll at the Mount Horeb Trollway website.
For more information about Mike Feeney and his work, visit the Wood Chicken homepage at http://www.woodenchicken.com.
For more information about the care and feeding
of Feeney's trolls, visit in the Field Guide To New World
Trolls at The Trollway website, http://www.mounthorebtrollway.com/