Stan Fillingsness - Norwegian Woodcarving

Master: Stan Fillingsness, Canton
Apprentice: Arnold Bortnem, Sioux Falls
Art Form: Norwegian woodcarving techniques

Almost twenty years ago, Stan Fillingsness of Canton met Arnold Bortnem of Sioux Falls when he took a woodcarving class Arne was teaching. Now their roles have been reversed as Stan took Arne on as his apprentice in Norwegian woodcarving techniques.

Arne was already an accomplished carver, and because of his own Norwegian heritage had always been fascinated by the traditional acanthus leaf style of that tradition, but couldn’t figure out on his own how to learn its intricacies. Stan had taken classes with master carvers from Norway, had traveled to Norway, and had a large collection of books and carving patterns, so he was the perfect teacher for Arne. And for Stan, Arne was the perfect student: “He was number one on my list of names. I knew he could do it, and I also know that he will pass it on to some other people.”

Arne says he gained an in-depth understanding of the designs and techniques unique to Norwegian carving, learned the proper words and standards, and improved his skill. Arne’s projects included a clock, decorative spoon, traditional mangle board (mangletre) (used to smooth clothes), and a kubbestol (traditional Norwegian chair) as his final project. “I want to pick up a tool and make the type of cut that a master carver who did this kind of work would make, rather than chip and chisel away like most of us amateurs do,” he says.

Sadly, Stan passed away in 2008 at age 90. 

Stan Fillingsness looks over a Norwegian woodcarving pattern book.Man (Stan Fillingsness) stands at workbench, looks through book. Wood working tools line back of bench.







Arne Bortnem
Arne Bortnem carves a Norwegian acanthus leaf clock.