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North House Folk School
North House Folk School

Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Figure Carving

This course provides beginning carvers with the opportunity to carve several figures in the Scandinavian flat-plane style. Beginning with tool sharpening, the course provides hands-on carving experience as you complete a figure in step-by-step fashion. You will then paint the figures and apply a final oil finish. After this initial figure, you will carve additional pieces independently while the instructor offers assistance on an individual basis. Sharpening equipment and finishing supplies are also covered. Band-sawn wooden cutouts may be purchased directly from the instructor and he will also have a supply of basic carving tools for purchase for students who do not have their own.

The roots of figure carving in Scandinavian stretch back into the mists of time. It's easy to imagine northerners long ago, especially during long hours of winter darkness, gathered around the fire...their source of light as well as warmth...carving figures to entertain children or grandchildren. Or imagine groups of men in the early- to mid-1800s, carving figures as they relaxed in the bunkhouse of their logging camps after a hard day's work cutting trees to satisfy the demands of recently established commercial sawmills. Creating a Scandinavian horse, a rooster, a wood-chopper, a grandmother. Using the simple tool of choice, an all-purpose whittling knife, they told stories in wood as well as words---one chip at a time.

Registration in the March 2016 session of this class includes participation in mini classes & excursions on Saturday, March 5, as part of Wood Week. More information will be provided upon registration. Please plan to participate!


New! Wed, Mar 02, 2016 - Fri, Mar 04, 2016
(Early bird tuition deadline: 01/20/16)
* New! Wed, Jun 15, 2016 - Fri, Jun 17, 2016
(Early bird tuition deadline: 05/04/16)

Course Details

Length in days:


$285.00 per student (Regular rate)
$255.00 per student (Early-bird rate)

Varies (see description)

Beginner to Intermediate

Age with adult:

* The Mar 02, 2016 course is part of the Wood Week event

Making it happen:
  • When should I enroll?
  • Do you take last minute registrations?
  • When will new course dates be posted?

You will need the following tools for this class:

  1. Thin-bladed whittling/carving knife, such as 'Harley' knife; or a carving knife made by OCCtools, Mike Shipley (formerly called a 'Denny knife') etc. Available from the instructor and the North House Folk School Store.
  2. Kevlar-type cut resistant glove is strongly recommended
Once registered, students will receive a confirmation packet in the mail that may offer additional optional tool recommendations and suggested reading.
Harley Refsal Harley Refsal

Harley specializes in Scandinavian-style flat plane figure carving, a minimalist style that leaves the tool marks exposed. He has won numerous carving awards and has taught carving classes throughout the United States, Canada, and Scandinavia. In 1996 he was decorated by the government and King of Norway for his contributions to Norwegian folk art studies. Harley is the author of "Art and Technique of Scandinavian-Style Woodcarving." In addition to his carving and teaching, Harley is a professor of Norwegian language and Scandinavian folk art at Luther College, Decorah, Iowa.

More about Harley Refsal
Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Figure Carving

Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Figure Carving

Scandinavian Style Flat-Plane Figure Carving