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