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The Whittler & Chip

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  • The Whittler & Chip

    Hi everyone.

    My father Mike Bordwell and my grandfather Richard were both full time woodcarvers and carpenters they were mainly based in Iowa but their works have gone all over the world. Unfortunately I did not follow in their footsteps but I've been compiling a sort of tribute page. Since they both passed before the internet was a thing I wanted something online where people that purchased a piece can find some info on the men that created them.

    My grandfather signed his work "The Whittler" and my father signed his "Chip" as a chip of wood from the Whittler. If you have any of these pieces or come across them I would greatly appreciate if you could take a photo and send it my way.

    They created everything from wooden shoes and western characters to full size totem poles. If you have some time perhaps check out the blog. It's totally non profit and is there just to honor them.

    Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy it.


  • #2
    A nice tribute to a couple of great carvers!

    My FaceBook Page:

    My Pinterest Page:

    My ETSY Shop:


    • #3
      A very nice site Chad. Some really good carvings.


      • #4
        Nice blog, and tribute Chad. Good luck with your search for more carvings..

        If I took the time to fix all my mistakes, I wouldn,t have time to make new ones.


        • #5
          A very nice remembrance of your father and grandfather's work, Chad. Perhaps the message is that we should take care to document (photos, descriptions) our carvings before they go away (sold or gifted). My kids have offered to develop a website of my carvings. Maybe we should get busy. . .


          • #6
            Originally posted by pallin View Post
            A very nice remembrance of your father and grandfather's work, Chad. Perhaps the message is that we should take care to document (photos, descriptions) our carvings before they go away (sold or gifted). My kids have offered to develop a website of my carvings. Maybe we should get busy. . .
            Yeah, when you're living the moment it's just work. They got paid and moved on so you don't really keep track of where they went. My father kept a photo album that mysteriously disappeared after he passed. Now that they are gone the carvings mean more and you start wondering where they went to and if they are being cared for. My sister tries to buy every piece she hears about but I think it would just be great to have the pictures for everyone to enjoy.


            • #7
              A fine thing you're doing, Chad. I hope you find many pictures.


              • #8
                Thanks for the support everyone. If any of you would be able to help spread the word or suggest places I should promote the site that would be great. I'm not very ingrained in the online woodworking community.


                • #9
                  Hi Chad, I was very happy to see your almost year old posts about your grandfather and father. I'm a proud owner of two pieces that your grandfather made. I have a horse head that we've named Ol' Brownie' and two morel mushrooms together on a base signed by 'The Whittler '73' on the bottom with a pencil.

                  We've had Ol' Brownie since probably the late '70's. He sets on the wall on our main level. The mushrooms is on my desk at my office. We might have paid $50.00 for Brownie from a local contractor that needed a few bucks to pay bills. I found the mushrooms on EBay 15 or 20 years ago when I was looking for more pieces that your grandfather made. If memory serves, it was in Ohio and they wanted $600.00 for it. I didn't buy it then and about a year later paid 'em $100.00. I was, and am, happy to have both pieces.

                  He didn't get much money back then for his work. He would sell some to the local auto dealer for no much and the auto dealer would take the pieces out to Montana and resell them and made a large profit of you grandpa's work,

                  The bank in Hartwick, IA had several pieces of his work there and I stopped there once to see them. Alan Knaack (raised in Vinton) was the head banker there at the time.
                  I think he's retired and might still live in Grinnell. I'll bet he would have pieces of your grandpa's work at his home.

                  I would dearly love to have a large relief carving piece that he made. I'm from, and still am, in Vinton, IA and worked at a local gas station in the 60's here and your grandfather and his family (Your dad was probably quite young then.) would stop there, especially on their way to and from Texas in the winter and Minnesota in the summer. They did live near Vinton in earlier years. Seems like they would build log cabins and live there a while and then move on, or so the story goes.

                  On the back of Brownie is a newspaper print in the Des Moines Register about the big totem pole they was making at, and for, the Iowa State Fair one summer. If I remember correctly, there was a grocery store chain on the west coast named 'Totem' and they made Totem Poles for each store. There might have been some stores in Alaska also.

                  A very talented local carver here in Vinton, Brian Parr, knew your father and has spoken very highly of him and his talents. You are blessed to have had such talented ancestors.

                  Thanks for your original post. I'm glad to be able to share some memories.


                  • #10
                    Hi Chad - I recently posted a thrift store find of mine on Facebook wondering if anyone knew anything about it. My little bit of research of 'The Whittlers '70 shoe' came up with a potential Whittling club in Weedsport New York that seemed to have disbanded around 1974, so the timeframe sounded right, however I received a reply from another person in the group with a link to this post. So I thought I'd reach out to say, Hi! I have one of your family's shoes! I picked it up at a local Goodwill here in Phoenix, AZ about 6 months ago. I am an amateur carver, so I was naturally drawn to the shoe. I'll share a couple pictures of it if you're still trying to collect information on them!


                    • #11
                      Enjoyed the site very much. Excellent work -- by your woodcarving elders and by you! What a great way to honor and preserve their memory.


                      • #12
                        Great idea, great tribute, great work. Best of luck with getting lots of photos of their work.