Henry Van Calcar

Artist Statement

“I have been fascinated by the Northwest native art for as long as I can remember. At Blake Island while watching Rob Staffer carving a mask and I asked Rob where he got his knives as I thought I might like to try carving. He said he made his own. I asked him if he could make me a set which he did and now I was ready to give it a try. It wasn’t until about 7 years later when I retired as an engineer, that I took up those knives and carved my first piece of native art, I was hooked. I did several other pieces and even tried making a small bentwood box that was a total disaster as it broke in the steaming and bending process.

I soon recognized that there was a whole lot more to this art form then I had realized and I needed help. I signed up for a northern formline course given by Duane Pasco and a bent wood box making class at Kestrel Tool. That was a great jump start. A year later I signed up for another formline class given by Tim Runyan and subsequently attended Tim’s every other Saturday class in his studio. I also took a mask making class from Scott Jensen that helped to take the mystery out of making a mask. I have been amazed at how much I have learned from working with these masters.
Since my retirement, my wife and I spend four months each summer cruising the B.C. and southeast Alaska waters on our boat. During these cruises I usually carve several hours each day. We have had the opportunity to visit with many of the native carvers up the coast and we have become good friends with many of them. They have been wonderful in their encouragement and sharing their culture and love of the art form.
I sincerely hope that you have enjoyed my art work and carvings as much as I have enjoyed making them. I also wish to thank all of the wonderful artists and carvers who have been so helpful.”