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Ale Bowls

Jim Paulson -- Artist

Handcarved Ale Bowls

Norwegian Tradition

I have been very fortunate to study ale bowl carving in the last couple years.  It is a dream come true for me to learn from historic ale bowls and to incorporate some artful innovation.  I have received funding from the North Dakota Council on the Arts to become an ale bowl carver to preserve Traditional Art and Folk Culture.

The Blue and Orange Small Rooster

May 4, 2019

The Blue and Orange Small Rooster ale bowl has turned out to be one of the prettiest carvings I've done.  I've used other paint schemes of green, black, and brown, but the awesome shade of blue here really popped.  I had fun using chip carving to resemble feathers.

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Dragon Carving on Small Rooster

May 4, 2019

I really love how the dragon carving came alive with the red, orange, and yellow color transitions on the wings.  The black background is very traditonal for a Norwegian ale bowl, but I was careful here to keep some of the vibrancy of the other colors.  I enjoyed the design I used for the rooster head behind the eyes.   Almost looks like rays of sunshine on the side of its head.

The Green and Orange Small Rooster

May 4, 2019

The Green and Orange Small Rooster is distinctive with its grooves that resemble the sides on a Viking ship.  The profile on this ale bowl looks like the hull of those ships.  The green color is very traditional for Norwegian ale bowls and reddish orange highlights worked beautifully here. I incorporated chip carving motifs around the mouth of the ale bowl and numerous instances of chisel work to depict feathers.

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Ale Bowl Projects

Little Red Hen Ale Bowl

May 4, 2019

Little Red Hen Ale Bowl was a fun one to create.  It was carved using select basswood.  The brownish red color gave the little hen a real boost in appearance.  The green wing that features gouge cut grooves with V tool lines was just enought to bring life to it.  A bit of dragon carving on the yellow tail added some zing too.  The carving is finished with acrylic paint and sealed with polyurethane coatings.

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Reddish Brown and Green Rooster

September 2018


Green, Orange, and Blue Dragon

March 2019

This ale bowl was completed as part of my apprenticeship, in 2018/2019, with Master Carver Phil Odden of Norsk Wood Works, in Barronett, Wisconsin.   It was carved from select basswood and it features dragon carving and chip carving motifs.  It has a profile and incorporates parallel grooves that resemble Viking ship construction.  It is finished with acrylic paints and poyurethane coatings.

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Ale Bowl Projects 

Green Small Rooster

February 2019

The Green Small Rooster was my first one of this size.  I had fun using a more stylized approach to a folk carved ale bowl.  I incorporated a number of carving styles on this ale bowl, including acanthus carving  and dragon carving.  I love this size of an ale bowl and I've carved several versions of it since.

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Brown and Green Rooster

February 2019

This was one of the projects I did under my apprenticeship, in 2018/2019, with Master Carver Phil Odden of Norsk Wood Works, Barronett, Wisconsin. I wanted to design an ale bowl with predominantly an acanthus leaf motif.  The ale bowl was carved from select basswood and it was finished with acrylic paints and polyurethane coatings.

Double Horse Headed Ale Bowl

October 2018

This was one of the ale bowls I carved in a woodcarving carving class with Phil Odden and Else Bigton of Norsk Wood Works of Barronett, Wisconsin.   It was painted during my apprenticeship with Phil a month later.  This ale bowl celebrates the tradition of double horse headed ale bowls from Voss, Norway.  Fjord horses were depicted and I had examples of them to see outside Phil's shop.  The black background with reddish brown, yellow and green colors are classic choices for ale bowls.  The bowl was carved from select basswood, and it was finished with acrylic paints and polyurethane coatings.

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This project was supported in part by a grant, in 2018/2019, from the North Dakota Council on the Arts, which receives funding from the state legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts.