Blackhawk Carving Club
Rockford, Illinois 61109
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The Blackhawk Woodcarver

Volume XXVII, Issue 9     September 2022

Blackhawk Carving Club

We meet every Wednesday at 9:00 am until 12:00 noon at the Ken Rock facility at 625 Adams Street, Rockford, IL.  KenRock is located in the area of Rural and North 2nd St.


Presidents Report  September 2022

At the last meeting we had a good showing of carvings including some cowboys. As usual they were excellent, keep up the good work! Our next challenge was given to us by Don Stansfield carving a mold of a pumpkin and skeleton head with cross bones. It’s called the Halloween funeral biscuits, see attachment. I started carving this today and it’s a challenge. Baking the biscuits will be my wife’s challenge!

We are looking for tips and tricks making carving easier. It can be on sharpening, painting your carving, carving cleaner, how to take an idea from thought to pattern to a blank to carve, and tricks to using a band saw. As you give us the information, we will publish it in the newsletter each month.

Tip #1: Every time you strop your tools you start the rounding process and over time it will only cut straight on. To slow down this process lay your knife flat on a 500-grit wet and dry sandpaper and move the knife in a circular motion on both sides a few times then strop on leather.

Keep carving and send in those tips!

Denny Neubauer


Newsletter deadline

Keep sending your pictures and stories by the October 5, 2022 deadline.


Secretary report for August 2022

Minutes of the regular monthly business meeting of Blackhawk Woodcarvers; held on, August 17, 2022 at Ken Rock Community Center, 625 Adams Street, Rockford, Illinois 61107.

President Denny Neubauer opened the meeting at 9:39 am.   

Secretary, Steve Terrill read the minutes of July 20, 2022.  There were no questions or corrections, the minutes stood approved as read.

Treasurer: Larry Stenzel cannot attend because he is in self isolation due to covid exposure.  He reported to Denny that we continue to be solvent.  We are paid up through the year. 

New Business:  Denny noted that there is an upcoming Janesville show on Saturday, September 10 from 9-4. You can enter the “People’s Choice” if interested.  There is more information on the website.  We are renting a table and need some people to man it.  We will need 3-4 people to man it so others can walk around while someone monitors our table.  Bob has agreed to be there.  There will be a sign up for others interested.  It will be at the fairgrounds and there will be a map available in the newsletter.  

Continuing Business: We are continuing the cowboy challenge and it looks like members are responding well. Denny has blocks available if people want them.  Denny would like to see someone carve Miss Kitty.  Tony thinks she was pretty well carved already. 

Tony was at Ted Faber’s house.  He has a couple of cabinets to get rid of, one is 63 x 36 with doors and drawers, the other is 36 x 36 also with doors and drawers.  He would be glad to take anyone interested down there.  He also has a box of wood that Tony will bring in next week for people to pick over. 

Don Stansfield noted that the latest Woodcarver’s Illustrated including 100 tips for carvers.  Denny has had the idea that we should share good tips with each other. 

One more thing, there is a Cowboys and Indians series patterned by Tony’s watching Gunsmoke every Wednesday.  Denny suggested a size of 6 inches.  Denny would cut some blanks out around 2x2x6 inches. 

Respectfully submitted; Steve Terrill, Club Secretary.



The carving easel is $10 or two for $15.  The grinder is for $20.   Call at 815 988 3314.

Thanks, Roger Benedict


Clearing Off the Bench


                      FOR THE SAKE OF ART

You are a woodcarver; you are an artist!  How many times has it been said, “the art of carving” and you never gave it any thought? This is an interesting phrase, “in the art of,” that has me thinking about our Wednesday morning carving group.  As far as the wording I am not sure woodcarvers in general realize their significant contribution to the thought of art.  However, for the sake of art I wish to express my impressions of many of your carvings.

During my years in the Blackhawk Woodcarvers I have witnessed many carved objects supported by curiosity and inventive thinking.  Personally, knowing how skill levels play a role I generally search beyond skill and seek the creative idea which the carver has demonstrated---my opinion leans toward this as the basis of woodcarving.  So the meaning here is creativity and originality needs more recognition and applauded. 

I would like to suggest the next time during “show & tell” deeply observe the displayed carvings and notice the act of creativity.  I think you will be amazed how much creativity lies beyond the surface of the carved cuts.  Try not to take for granted for only what you see---explore.

Keed Your Tools Sharp

Roger Benedict

Funeral Biscuits for Woodcarvers - from an article by

Dave Western—Wood Carving Illustrated

While researching carved wooden objects, I accidentally discovered some interesting embossed wooden moulds that had been used in the old tradition of baking funeral biscuits (cookies, for our North American readers). These unique, decorated treats were given as an edible memorial token at funerals and wakes. The tradition may have developed from the ancient practice of hiring sin eaters', who would attend the funeral to consume a ritual meal and thus spiritually take on the sins of the deceased. The dearly departed would then be free to ascend Heaven's heights unencumbered by any transgressions committed during his or her lifetime. These funeral biscuits would frequently be wrapped in paper printed with a eulogy or dramatic quotations and then sealed closed with stamped wax. The cookies themselves were generally embossed with a stamped image that would rise when the dough was baked.

In Victorian times, these images tended toward the maudlin or macabre, but it occurred to me they would be easily adaptable for modern use at Halloween. With 31 October not so very far away, carving these moulds now will give you a chance to run a few batches of cookies for sharing at your office Halloween party, for eating while you guard the sweet bowl on the big night, or just for testing purposes.


have carved a couple of simple designs that I think would be applicable to the Halloween celebration. The skull and crossbones is always popular with children (and more than a few adults) and the carved pumpkin is, without doubt, the most famous modern symbol of All Hallows' Eve.

These little cookie stamps are fairly straightforward to make and can be crafted from small scraps of whatever close-grained, food-safe wood are available to you. Very few tools are needed and the designs can easily be modified to suit your carving abilities or design tastes.

At the end of the article, I have included a tradition funeral biscuit recipe, as well as some advice for ways to make them slightly more appealing to modern palates. I hope you will be encouraged in some pre-Halloween baking experimentation.


Biscuit recipe

Finally, here is the recipe for making your own funeral biscuits. Now, I confess that I have never made biscuits prior to this adventure, so don't expect instructions of Delia Smith quality, but if you'd like to have a bash at it, here's the traditional recipe, along with some suggestions for making it taste a bit less Victorian. I've scaled it down by a third from most of the traditional recipes... so feel free to boost it back up if you have more baking confidence than me

Funeral biscuits for woodcarvers

.Thoroughly mix ½ cup of sugar, ½ cup of soft batter/margarine, an egg and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Gradually add wet ingredients into a mixing bowl containing a cup of sifted flour and a pinch of salt.

Mix together until a stout dough is formed (add more flour if it seems a bit wet), then cool in fridge for a couple of hours before rolling out to approximately in thick.

*Traditional recipes call for a teaspoon of toasted caraway seeds during mixing. Other more modern recipes replace caraway with ½ teaspoon of cardamom or 4 teaspoon of orange zest.

Lightly dust the mould with icing (confectioner's) sugar, press the mould (or pound it down once) vigorously into the dough then gently remove. It should come away from the dough cleanly, but if not, gently peel the dough off the mould. Cut the cookies to shape with a thin, sharp knife. I simply followed the outline of the mould.

Lay the biscuits on a baking tray and bake at 175°C (350°F) for between 12 and 20 minutes (depending how crispy you like them). They stay fairly light-coloured until they start to burn... again, don't ask me how I know that.

For an All Hallows' celebration, the biscuits would probably look good with a bit of decorative black and/or orange icing piped around the edge

Happy Halloween.

 October Birthdays (that we Know of)

  9 Tony Devita
  9  Carrie Lay
 14 Carol Behning

Door Prizes

Don't forget the Door Prize drawing on First Wednesdays. Bring something you don't need or want  anymore, but know someone would be thrilled to win at the drawing.

Carvers wanted

Sometimes I get calls from people wanting to have a carving done (for money).  If you are interested in any of these contacts, let me know and what kind of carvings you are interested in doing for people.  Don Stansfield


Like us on Facebook “Blackhawk Woodcarvers”.  Many pictures and information.

Want to buy or sell

If you have anything that you would like to buy or sell send me an email and I will put it in the newsletter.   Gordy Moscinski

Club Officers   (815 aera code)

President,  Denny Neubauer, 238-5296
Vice Pres,  Richard Dunphey, 633-9003
Treasurer,  Larry Stenzel, 389-4714
Secretary,  Steve Terrill, 708-0471

Committees       (815 aera code)

Programs, Richard Dunphey, 633-9003
Webmaster & Newsletter Editor Gordy Moscinski  874-7978
Photographer  Steve Terrill
Picnic   Tony Devita

Upcoming Shows in 2022 


The Rock River Valley Woodcarvers of Wisconsin will be having their annual show on Saturday September 10, 2022 at the Rock County Fairgrounds “Craig Center” 131 Craig Ave. Janesville, WI. Hours are 9;00 AM to 4:00 PM. More information on website:


“Carvin The Rockies CCA” will be held September 24 & 25, 2022 in Colorado Springs, CO. More information @


The Northeast Wisconsin Woodworkers Guild will be having a woodcarving show in Denmark, WI on Saturday & Sunday October 8 & 9, 2022. More information as soon as we get it.


The Waupaca Area Woodcarvers will be having their first woodcarving show on November 6, 2022 @ 407 School Street, Waupaca, WI. More information available from Harold Mohr (715-281-4923) or Kathy Brehm (920-740-1986).



A little humor

Sven and Ole went out duck hunting.  They worked at it for a couple hours and finally Sven says, “I wonder why aren’t we getting any ducks, Ole?” 

“I don’t know,” says Ole.  “ I wonder if we are throwing the dog high enough?”


Ole was fishing with Sven in a rented boat. They could not catch a thing.  Ole said, “Lets go a bit furder downstream.”  so they did, and they caught many monstrous fish.  They had their limit, so they went home.  On the way home, Sven said, “I marked da spot right in da middle of da boat, Ole.”

“You stupid, “said Ole.  “How do you know ve vill get da same boat next time!”


So there was a big snowstorm and a snow emergency was declared.  Ole had to park his car on the odd-numbered side of the street.  Two days later, more snow, and he had to park it on the even-numbered side of the street.  The next day ,another snowstorm, another snow emergency, odd-numbered side of the street, and Ole said, “Heck, Lena, I’m tired of this.  I’m  gonna leave the dang car in the garage and if they want to tow it, let ’em tow it.”  


Show and Tell

 doc adams
Jim Foster brought in a carving of Doc Adams from Gunsmoke as his contribution. He also showed a longshoreman figure with a cigarette in his mouth. 


Dick Dunphy took Denny’s class at Rock Valley and carved 3 skinny guys.  One has a turnable head.  And one was a little guy for comparison. 

 cowboy     cowboy


Steve Terrill brought in his unpainted attempt at a cowboy which is a work in process.  He also brought in an Indian head that Ray Olson had carved in 2004 which is pretty close to completed but not painted.  Steve was reluctant to paint it since he does not want Ray’s work thought to be his own, but will probably paint it anyway.


Jerome Mais brought in a tiny painted bird on driftwood.  


Jerome Mais brought in 2 cowboys .  


Tony DaVita carved a cowboy.  He saw it and just “carved him”


Tyrone Johnsen carved a little caricature of Denny, forging a knife and hitting his thumb when the preacher’s daughter came by and he lost concentration.  It is complete with a mouth yelling something and a very swollen thumb. 

 indian     indian


Bob Hallstrom brought in 3 busts he carved in 2005.  One is a double bust.  Excellent work. 

 cowboy     cowboy

Denny Neubauer carved a cigar store Indian in when he was in a class with Floyd Radigan over at port Bryan.  It is a work in progress.  He is a great teacher and fun.  He also showed a pair of carvings in progress, one an Indian and one a Cowboy. 

 man    turtle

Jerry Robey showed a carving that Ted Faber roughed out of butternut and did not want to finish so he gave it to Jerry who just finished it. 


Carol Behning brought in her letter opener otter carving finishe with stain and inscribed with “Otter open it”. 


Richard Talbot carved a little book.

 hot air balloon

Gordy Moscinski carved a hot air balloon using 16 pieces of wood for the balloon.





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