Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a model totem carving class with the master of model totems Mr. Scott Jensen. Scott has done the finest model totem poles I have ever seen so I was excited to learn some techniques for planning and laying out a model totem pole. It is like any project that one undertakes, the careful layout, preparation of the wood, measuring everything to make sure it all fits well, and having points to refer back to while carving will make a good pole. The other very important concept is sequence. Carving wood is a subtractive activity, so you cannot erase or go back to correct a mistake. We all joke about numbering our chips in case we have to put them back on to the wood, but the reality is that if you take too much off one side you must do so on the other side also, or have a lopsided pole. The subtractive nature of carving makes it very important to cut things in the right sequence so that you do not destroy your reference points or get things lopsided. The correct sequence also means to be cognizant of the angle at which you are cutting, This is most difficult for me as I do so much two dimensional form line art where I don’t really have to think about it much, but it is very important to know at what angle you should hold your knife in relation to the axis of the pole, to avoid undercuts, and to make it all look like a miniature pole, instead of a five dollar tourist pole. I’m planning to make a model pole that I will cast in bronze. I’m sure there will be much consulting with the master before there is any bronze pouring going on! Thank You Scott!