A wonderful Wisconsin woodcarver

Patti Landmann was the winner of our 2021 Autumn Voices Spring Short Story Competition, and we’re delighted to see her back here talking about her creative seasonal crafting and showing us some of the fantastic things she’s made.

Hello Autumn Voices Community!

I’m Patti Landmann to my friends, but Patricia Landmann officially for my 81 years on this planet. I enjoy being retired from a manufacturing company where I held a very stressful management position. I’m a wife of 59 years – if we both make it to January 19, 2022. We have been blessed with three great sons, who are good citizens and great parents as well. I lost my middle son to cancer in May of this year – the largest hurdle of my lifetime, no doubt.

I call myself a ‘wannabe’ as I always want to be ‘something’! I dive in headfirst and give it my best until I reach a place where improvement stops or seems to plateau, then I move along to something new to learn – or do – or feel passionate about.

I began woodcarving about 18 years ago as a means of dealing with stress and because I loved Father Christmas figures and found them quite expensive to buy at shows. Looking at them closely, I decided, I think I can do this. And so, I tried and am still carving them each season.

Woodcarving has been an addictive pastime for me in a nice studio created for me by my sons. Part of this pastime involved membership in our local carving club of 100-plus members, where we shared our love of making and exhibiting wood crafts. We enjoyed staging a show each fall to sell and showcase our members’ talents.

I have gone through stages of interest, beginning with the Father Christmas figures, then a time of loving Native American design, and finally I settled on relief carving as the most rewarding to me personally. As my inevitable plateau arrived, I put down the knives and gouges in favour of a new adventure with wood. I took up woodturning on a nice sized lathe – this discipline is fairly easy to learn but very difficult, for me at least, to master! Yes, the plateau again!

Following carving and turning, I turned to nature photography. We live on 40 acres of woods and fields, so birds, butterflies and natural things became my passion. I do a poor job of maintaining it these days, but I do have a Patti Landmann Photography page on Facebook which has been well received. I used to take my eight-pound camera with me everywhere except the shower but although I’m now finding it a heavy load to carry, I have not given up. I rarely take it to family gatherings as I found early on that it is not possible to be the photographer and the gushing grandma when the camera sits between us!

During the last year of Covid isolation, I again took up the tools of woodcarving. I’m finding it a wonderful way to lose myself, to shut out the ever-present bad news of the world and just listen to the wood! Each piece of wood has something living inside of it if you just listen. That is the secret of woodcarving: listen to the wood and then remove everything that doesn’t need to be there and what is left is . . . voila! A carving!

I do also madly love to write a bit but have no formal training or experience – the words just bubble from a never-ending spring of thought and possibility. Experience has already taught me that it is easy to avoid the plateau by changing your audience, but . . .  the inevitable but . . . my writing is soft and emotional, often with a lesson wrapped in addictive words, but the current obsession of our youthful culture demands futuristic writing and zombies and aliens and alternate lifestyles of which I am unfamiliar and so I shrug and smile and tell the face in my mirror, You didn’t want a job anyway, just the pleasure of putting down the words.

And so, I turn back to my other tools to lose myself in some seasonal woodcarving in my cosy studio.

Happy holidays for 2021! 🎄 🎅 🧝

Patti Landmann, Wisconsin, USA

Send us your flash submissions on our December theme:
a bit of coorie and hygge!

Are you an avid Christmas crafter? Do you run any creative festive workshops for people in your area? Do you have any special winter routines or hobbies that help you to stay cosy and navigate the chilliest months in a state of contentment? Were there any festive or winter traditions you had growing up with your family or friends? If so, we’d love you to tell us about it in a flash submission. It could be a memoir, a short story, an anecdote or a poem.

Ends on December 31st and the author of our favourite entry will win a book prize and have their submission published on the website. Entries are free.

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