Arts and Entertainment

The Woodwork Way

— image credit:

You can make wood art the expensive way or a dentist’s way.


For Arla Mohnkern, a member of the Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans, she’s carved with the same scalpel from her late husband G.W. Mohnkern, a dentist, for years making bowls and decorative canes. “I’ve just replaced the blades,” she said.


By her guess she makes about one cane a month to sell at Wild Birds Unlimited. “I don’t like to have them hanging around,” she said.


Mohnkern has been carving since the 1970s and etches and whittles everyday at the Fifth Avenue retirement center. She even had her linen closet converted to open into a desk for her to work on.


Her love for carving is well known among the wood artisans who often bring her good limbs to carve.  

“They are super people,” she said.


Members of the club like Mohnkern show off their hard work of carvings, driftwood and more this Saturday for the club’s annual show at Pioneer Park.


“It’s the most fun place you can come,” Mohnkern said.


Seventeen artists show at least five pieces each with some of it for sale. A silent auction of tools and art helps the club bring in special instructors with the rest of the proceeds benefiting a few local charities.


The wood artisans’ show features a number of talented wood artisans like Ken Davis, a retired school district purchaser, who got into carving after a hunch.


“I went to a wood show and thought I could do that, too,” Davis said.


So he did and found his duck looked more like a dove at first but he’s honed his skills and gone on to be well respected for his work with birds. Lately, he’s particularly proud of a commission he recently did of Jesus Christ for a Puyallup man where even his arms can move up and down.  


Davis is the club’s featured artist after joining less than a year ago.


“I’ve learned from a lot of different people,” he said. “And here we all learn from each other. There’s no criticism.”


Gary Cummins, a retired park service employee, said he rediscovered carving after living in Maryland where there’s a deep passion for creating hunting decoys. When he moved to the area, he said it’s been great to learn from the other carvers.


“It’s pretty seldom I don’t leave without a tip,” he said.


The Wood Artisans meet Tuesdays in instructor Gordon Day’s shop where many go to socialize, work and/or seek input.


Kye Starbird, a retired educator from Florida, co-founded the wood artisans with three other women wood workers in 2006. She typically only carves at Day’s workshop.


“I’m glad these people let me associate with them. They are the great carvers. I’m the great appreciator,” she joked.


Ann Grover, another co-founder, said the club started with the idea to expand on the ideas of the Peninsula Driftwood Sculptors to allow for more variation.


She said going on their own has met their expectations by being able to do anything with wood. They’ve grown to host 38 members.


The Pacific Northwest Wood Artisans meet each Tuesday afternoon at Day’s workshop and host a monthly business meeting at 9 a.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St., Port Angeles. Membership is $16 annually.  


For more information on workshops and the show, call 681-7885 or visit



Reach Matthew Nash at
We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

Read the Oct 20
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates