Like skates on ice, hundreds spent their day carving at the Faribault Ice Arena Thursday at Carv Fest.

Unlike the hockey players that call the arena their home each winter, this group operated at a more leisurely pace, creating one-of-a-kind creations with instructors and looking over the various vendors located throughout the empty rink.

Along the boards, instructors led classes such as carving Santa Claus faces, cowboys and Scandinavian figurines. Inside of those classes, which began at 9 a.m. Thursday, were the vendors, some of whom were also teaching classes.

Other classes included how to carve fantasy caricatures, realistic faces and animals, whimsy houses, breadboards, chip carving, butternut animals, power carving, wood burning and a beginner’s class.

Elaine Stenman, of St. Cloud’s Stenman Studios, was working with a handful of pupils on relief woodcarvings. Relief carving is done on a flat panel of wood with the intention of depicting a scene that only slightly contrasts with the background. From there, the wood is burned to enhance the detail.

Stenman and her husband Fred were selling their items and teaching others how to do so over the course of the three-day festival.

The Stenmans have been Carv Fest regulars, with Elaine saying they “have been here most of the years.”

She recalled when the event only offered half-day classes, which she is glad was changed, as she prefers teaching multi-day courses to help students take their time and learn. While some of her pupils come one day only, she is pleased to be able to offer the extended courses in Faribault each summer.

While woodcarving is the main draw of Carv Fest, its artists come from other disciplines as well.

Lisa Truax is a ceramic artist from Winona and Thursday marked the first day of her third year at Carv Fest.

“A friend of mine told me about an art festival called Carv Fest,” she said of how she discovered the Faribault event. “I’m not a carver, but I had heard they wanted some other art classes.”

Thursday, Truax was teaching a clay molding course, where five people were gathered around a table creating human figurines out of clay. While no wood was used in the creations, she said molding and carving can go hand in hand.

Truax explained that some carvers use clay to help conceptualize their creations before they begin chipping away at the wood, which allows them to make mistakes and re-do their work without wasting the wood.

Friday, Truax will shift gears and offer a stained glass class, which she will replicate on Saturday as well.

Throughout the weekend, a number of instructors will offer more classes. While some are full, many spaces remain for anyone who hopes to work with the artists this weekend.

Gunnar Olson covers city government, public safety and business for the Faribault Daily News. Reach him at (507) 333-3128, at, or follow him on Twitter @fdnGunnar.

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