Thursday, September 23, 2010


Yes, I am getting really close now. This door is the most elaborate of the series. It is the door that separates the living room from the mechanical room, leaving only one more door left to carve. What does this mean? It means that now I will have to hang them. But more importantly, it means that the house is getting closer to completion and that I will be starting on a new main entrance door to replace the existing one.

The reason that this door is quite different from the rest, is because I chose to have it compliment the entertainment trastero (a common Spanish hutch found here in northern New Mexico) which is located near to this door. Well lets face it, at about 1,600 square feet, everything is close to everything. Anyway the Indian blanket has been replaced by this door and has become our cats new bed to fight over.

The first of the interior doors that I completed for the Solar Ranch was about two years ago and was made from Ponderous Pine whereas these eight doors that I am now working on are made of Sugar Pine and vary slightly from the original door.

The second interior door was originally an exterior door when the mechanical room and laundry room were one in the same. However about three years ago I decided to add solar water heating and need somewhere to put the 240 gallons of heated water. So in order to accomplish this I added a separate laundry room off the mechanical room which gave me another interior door. This door was never carved! So guess what I will be doing with this door sometime in the near future?

Terry R. Wolff

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Back in October of 2000 I started building our house out in Carson on the west side of the Rio Grande. An area known as part of the West Rim. This was exactly one year after I started my woodcarving studio which I finished that June. We moved into the house in February of 2002 with the exterior completely done and mush of the interior completed as well.

I worked on the house around carving commissions, carvings I did for a few years for Taos Fall Arts and doing installs for Gary over at Taos Mountain Electronics. In 2003 to make my life just a wee bit more interesting or maybe complicated I added a solar business to the mix (thus the name of our property, Solar Ranch). What was I thinking. Perhaps that I could do it all!!! Well, here it is 2010 and I am finally realizing that I don't seem to have enough energy as I did when I was in my 20's or for that matter in my 50's.

This past month or so just trying to up grade the solar site and bookkeeping programs are tiring me out. But after working on the Turner carving project with Peter Templeton I had decided that this is also the year to finish my inside doors. I did do a door for the bathroom a few years back. And I do have almost all the cabinets and furniture made and carved. I just have these last eight doors to do.

The spice door is my fav. It combines the door to the pantry with a built in spice rack which can be accessed from either side. As with most of my projects, they always seem to involve carving. All eight of these doors are carved on at least one side with a theme I created for the house. You can see it here on this door. This theme is carried throughout the Solar Ranch, on all the doors, gates, and furniture.

Here are some additional photo details of this door.

Well that is all I have for now.

Terry R. Wolff

Monday, April 19, 2010


Carvings for Ted Turner's Lodge Costilla at Vermejo Park Ranch in New Mexico

Hey I know this posting is well over due. And I know, what is with the fancy title name? Well, that is a big part of the reason why it has been so long to get back to this blog. Okay, in all fairness I also did a fair amount of skiing, other carving commissions, kept my solar business running and tended to the Solar Ranch as well. But for now, here is the Vermejo Ranch story and I just may break it down into a couple episodes if I find this article getting too long plus there are other photos which I would like to share with you.

Vermejo is a sizable ranch (588,000 acres to be more accurate, about the size of 3/4's of the state of Rhode Island) located to the east of Taos. Actually part of the ranch occupies the north eastern portion part of Taos County. Anyway the owner of the ranch (Ted Turner) decided that the old Lodge Costilla, originally built in 1915, needed to be replaced with a new lodge. So begins this woodcarving story. Now at the close of this two year plus project, which I have only been involved with for a few months, I have the time to share this story.
Peter Templeton, owner of Tree Of Life Woodworks was commissioned by Turner Enterprises in conjunction with Conron & Woods (Santa Fe) the project’s architect, to make and design approximately 80 pieces of furniture for the lodge. 21 of the pieces included woodcarvings of wildlife . Okay, now I hope you can see where I am going with this. Peter (Arroyo Hondo NM) along with Leonard Archeleta (Taos Pueblo NM), Terry "T-Bone" McCaulley (Pilar NM), and myself (Carson NM) were the woodcarvers brought in to do the carvings for this project.
Together we carved a total of 16 queen-size headboards, 2 buffet servers, a console table, a computer table, and a seating bench. The wood was southern Douglas Fir which was cut and milled from the forests on the ranch. Once the wood was cured and delivered to Peter's shop, the furniture was started. The furniture was done in two phases, the first of which included all the furniture which had no carvings. The second phase were the pieces which required the carvings. Peter, Leonard, and I did the drawings for the carvings.

The buffet servers had elk heads carved (Leonard and Terry) into their doors while the console table had four mule deer carvings (Leonard). The bench had a combination of local animals and scenery from the ranch carved into it. The computer table had a backboard which had a Rio Grande Cutthroat carved into it.

My favorite parts of this project were the headboards because they incorporated both the animals and scenery from the ranch. There were a total of 8 bedrooms, each with two queen size beds. Each room had its own theme; there were Antelope, Bear, Buffalo, Eagle, Elk, Game Birds, Mule Deer, and Wild Cat Rooms.

Peter Templeton took on the buffalo room. Although he would have liked to have done more carving, his time was limited by all the other work, such as coordinating his woodworkers and woodcarvers not to mention other on going projects as well.

Leonard Archuleta carved the headboards in the Antelope, Elk, and the Mule Deer bedrooms.

Terry McCaulley carved the beds for Eagle and the Wild Cat rooms.

I Carved the Bear and the Game Bird headboards.

Even though this is a woodcarving blog, before I sign off I want acknowledge Chris Burdekin, Jon Evans. Jason Rathbun, Victor Fonseca, Juan Gonzalez, and Shawn Putnam. who were the woodworkers that did an excellent job of making all these pieces of furniture for us to carve. For me this was a fun project and a chance to work with some really good woodworkers and fellow woodcarvers.

On my next posting I may continue with this project by showing more images of woodcarving or I may touch on another subject. Now that I hope to be having more time in the studio I will get back to finishing the knives I started earlier this year, which means you will be getting updates on those blog posts as well.

Terry R. Wolff

PS Tree of Life Woodworks can be found on the Web a, more information about this project will be posted there in the future.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Within the next few days I will be starting a series on the carvings I did along with Peter and two other carvers. But for now I am going to direct you to a page on Peter's website ( which is an article written by Matthew van Buren for the Taos News, our local weekly newspaper. On this page there is a like to a page of additional photos taken by their photographer Tina Larkin. The last photo was one that I took of a carving which I did for myself during the project.

Since the Taos News article explains that this project is all about, I will not waste your time by saying more. Just read the article and see some of the work which we did.

I will be posting more about the Vermejo Park Ranch project in the very near future. But first I have given the article to Peter so that he can review it. After all, it is really his baby and I am just glad that he included me to work on it.

I hope you enjoy the work and in the near future I will be adding all the names of the people who deserve the credit for what their part was on this project but for now this is all I have time for.

Terry R. Wolff

Monday, February 1, 2010


Hey, sorry for the delay in getting something on this site. I still am not quite up to doing articles on a regular bases but I am sure that will come in time. Anyway I have been quite busy this winter and I have to admit, that whenever I have any free time I am off to the Taos Mountain to do some skiing. So until the middle of April, skiing will be one of my main priorities. As I get older I have come to realize that it is very important not to procrastinate, so therefore as long as this body is willing to do black diamonds and double black diamonds on Taos Mountain I have no other choice than to submit to the mountain.

As for the knives I was able to finish up the ones that had been ordered and yes, I will be continuing the knife series as I find time. I hope that I have the time to work on getting them done this month so that will be one less thing to have to worry about. What me worried?

I just finished these signs over the week-end which is amazing since I had a full weekend of skiing as well. And now have to do one additional one.

I have been hired on by Tree Of Life Woodworking to work on a carving project for one of Ted Turner's NM Ranches. The project consist of carvings for the dining room and 16 headboards for the eight guest rooms. There are two other carvers on the job and so far I have just been doing the drawings for the carvings. Last week I did eight full size headboard layouts. And they were traced on to the headboards and two of them are now being carved. This is a fun project as the subject matter is of animals which are on the ranch including background scenes from the ranch as well.
Also I recently noticed on FaceBook that I had an inquiry about crook knives. Most people don't know what a crook knife is so in the near future I will address these. In the mean time crook knives were a popular tool of the northwest Indian tribes. Their use went from as far north as Alaska to British Columbia to Washington State. I don't think it was used by any tribes farther south and may not have been really used in Washington until perhaps the early 1900's.

Well that is all I have time for now so until next time.

Terry R. Wolff

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Inspired by David Chavez and the works of Patrocino Barela

I would like to tell you a little story about this woodcarving (No. 8730). I carved it as a Valentines gift for my wife-to-be, Linda. The year was 1998, it was about two hours before she was coming home from work to my converted school bus. I suddenly realized at about for in the afternoon, that I had forgotten to get her a gift (oh, what a guy thing to do!!!).

I quickly went out to my fire wood pile and located an exquisite, but quite gnarled piece of Rocky Mountain Juniper (perfect). Working feverishly for the next couple of hours, I had the carving waiting for her when she arrived. Day saved with seconds to spare!

Besides the amazingly short amount of time that this chunk of fire wood became a treasured gift, there is more to the story...

A few years prior to this, a chap by the name of David Chavez strolled into my studio at the Pueblo Alegra Mall and asked me if I could teach him to carve. David not only wanted to learn to carve but he had a certain style of carving on his mind and that is what he wanted to do. He wanted to carve in the style of Patrocino Barela a famous Taos carver from the days of the great depression.

So David became a student and
a good student at that. Turns out that David's uncle had a collection of several hundred of Barela's carvings, and some of these are what we used to train David to achieve a carving style which was like Berela's, was definitely David's.

David studied with me for a couple of years, during which time we became friends. David was beginning to get a following of people who wanted his angels and he started doing local art shows. One autumn when I was teaching carving at UNM I had invited David to bring some of his work and talk with my class. After the class David told me that he was invited to do a Christmas show at Los Alamos and asked me to do the show with him and I accepted.

David's style was similar to the above angel except that the wings were always down or added on. I told Dave that I would do relief carvings and we decided that at the end of the show we would just split any profits. And if there were any profits we decided that other shows would be in order.

That week I went to a local wood mill in El Salto and had them cut me diagonal Juniper slabs which I would use for my relief carvings. I took some of the slabs to my UNM class and had the students look at a slab and see what they thought they saw in it. Being the majority of my class were hispanic with a strong Catholic origin, it came as no surprise that the majority of them saw Mother Mary. Thus the birth of my Taos Spiritual Series. By the time of the show we both had a good number of carvings.

Unfortunately just before the show, my friend David had a heart attack which took his life. I never did the show. I had know from early on that David had this heart condition and that is why he retired and took up woodcarving. The Carving had enabled David to do something creative and something he enjoyed in the last years of his stay here on earth. For me I gained a friend. A friend who was a Taos native and who shared his knowledge of the area. A friend who I will never forget. A friend who turned me on to private showings of the the carvings of Barela and the stories of how his uncle came to have such a valuable collection (each carving was worth a minimum of $1,000 and many of them much more).

David's uncle was Barela's neighbor.Seems that Patrocino was more often than not shy of money for food and such, So, David's uncle would purchase carvings from Patrocino and times for as little as a pint of whiskey or he would give Patrocino's wife money for food. Over the years he had acquired more carvings than he had room to display them so many of them were stored in boxes to be rotated out for display or just stored away. When he died, he left his collection to the members of his family.

I am ever thankful for this time I spent with David and his family and for being privileged to see this wonderful collection of Patrocino Barela's woodcarvings.

Terry R. Wolff

P.S. A footnote about Patrocino Barela life. Born during 1900 in Bisbee Arizona, his father moved his family to Taos in 1904. He emerged in 1936 as one of America's most important artist when he was featured in a show of Federal Art Project artists in New York's Museum of Modern Art and was the first Mexican American artist to achieve national acclaim. Patrocino was a prolific woodcarver. He died at the age of 64, when a fire took his life as he slept in his carving shed on the night of his 33rd anniversary.