1992 - Volume #16, Issue #2, Page #17[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Family Totem PoleWe couldn't believe our eyes when we first saw this family "totem pole" in the yard of Sig Jorstad, who farms near Pullman, Wash. The faces of all 10 members of Jorstad's family are carved into the face of a 32-ft. tall cedar pole, topped off by a Piper Cub air-plane that's also completely carved out of wood.
Jorstad's gigantic work of art was created by California chainsaw artist Jonathan La Benne who works all over the country making wooden sculptures. Jorstad got the idea when La Benne came to a nearby town to carve a large monument that consisted of five poles with the faces of 51 former foot-ball players. After seeing how well it came out, he decided to contract with La Benne to put his family on a pole.
It took La Benne 3 months to complete the "Siggie Pole", which is 2 ft. in dia. and set in concrete in Jorstad's farmyard. Sig and his wife Carol are at the top of the pole with the kids down below them. Sig's head at the top of the pole is 3 ft. high. The carvings get progressively smaller going down the pole to the bottom head which is 20 in. high. Each head is intricately de-tailed, including glasses and teeth. Once he finished, La Benne used a special stain he makes up himself to color in highlights on the heads. "I try to use the color of the natural wood as much as possible," he says, noting that all facial features are left in natural wood while teeth are colored white and hair is darkened or lightened, as needed. He mostly worked from photographs of family members, although in some cases they were available to sit for him during carving.
The Piper Cub on top of the pole was carved separately and then attached to the top of the pole. Jorstad has been a pilot for 40 years and at one time owned a flying service.
La Benne says the "Siggie Pole" was one of the more unusual projects he's created. "I had tremendous interest from other people in the area while I was carving it. People just couldn't believe it," he says, noting that he's had many requests for similar projects but notes that there aren't too many individuals willing to pay the approximately $ 15,000 it costs to carve a pole like Jorstad's.
For more information, contact FARM SHOW Followup, Jonathan La Borne, P.O. Box 2163, Pine Cove, Calif. 92349 (ph 714 659-6158).
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