Bio

Solstice Woodcarving.  This is a brief description about my life as an artist.  Carving was always in my blood.  It just took my awhile to get there.

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SOLSTICE WOODCARVING - Christopher Malueg

BIOGRAPHY

Christopher Malueg is the founder of Solstice Woodcarving, LLC, established in 2008.

Beginnings...

Chris Malueg grew up with a love of the arts.  As a boy he was involved in many artistic mediums: drawing, pen and ink, charcoal, wood burning, clay, stained glass, and wood. One of the first things he ever carved was a toy for himself.  He "stole" a 4 foot 2 x 4 off the site of his father's deck-building project and started whittling away with a single-blade folding knife he begged his father to buy him.  None too patient, ten-year-old Chris found all the saws he could, including a circular sanding disc drill attachment, for some quick wood removal.  Several days later, after he had finished his new sword, he was outside playing with it.  "That was the whole point in making it in the first place.  I wanted a two-handed battle sword.  So I was outside banging it up against trees, throwing it at stuff and stabbing it into the ground,  fighting off orcs and goblins or whatever such horrible creature I'd heard about.  I was a bit of, and I guess still am, a nerd.  My dad saw me and took my sword  away".  Chris' father was so surprised and impressed by what he had made that he did not want his young son to break or damage it. So he took it for "safe keeping".   "I still have no idea where it is...I suppose I should ask him!"  As time went on Chris seriously considered becoming a commercial artist.

Different kinds of art...

However, as Chris grew older, he found other interests.  As a young man he had some success as a musician and actor. He graduated from Lawrence University Conservatory of Music in Appleton, WI with an B.M. in Vocal Performance and a B.A. in Theater and Drama. While in college, he took several Art History courses and his love for art was renewed.  While studying in London, he took the opportunity to "backpack through Europe" visiting the most prestigious art museums in the world.  After graduation, Chris moved to Seattle to continue private study in music and participate in the local theater scene.      

This chair was commissioned to be covered with images from the state of Wisconsin: Fox, Monarch Butterfly, Robin, Maple Leaf, Raccoon, Bobcat, Goose, Large Mouth Bass, Common Loon, Badger, Wood Violet, Squirrel, Wisconsin Dells, Kestrel,  Swallowtail Butterfly, Great Horned Owl, Black Eyed Susans

Making a Living...

As a "starving artist" in Seattle, Chris was always looking for the odd job. Tired of coffee shops and book stores, Chris reached out to his friends for a new direction.  A friend of his, Anna, suggested he contact her father, a local woodworker. Chris thought this meant working for a furniture maker or cabinet builder.  What she didn't tell him was that her father was Ernst Schwidder; designer, artist and master woodcarver.

 Lucky Break...

Narthex wall sculpture          

St. Matthew's Church,  Renton, WA

Carving by Ernst Schwidder                              

With no prior experience in woodcarving (at least professionally), Ernst hired Chris on a part time basis doing small jobs around the studio. Shown the basics of how to handle carving tools, Ernst allowed Chris to work on some very basic designs. However, (and as a surprise to them both) Chris was very adept with the chisel and mallet and was soon carving Ernst's designs full time.

 

Life Changer...

Ernst was a highly sought after designer and artist. His work was almost exclusively ecclesiastical. He was constantly designing, carving and meeting with prospective builders.  While Ernst was out consulting with clients, Chris would hammer out his designs bringing them to the final stages of completion. Ernst would come in for the final cuts. Towards the end of his time with Ernst, and under his wary eye, Chris was carving most everything to completion.  

Moving on... 

After several years in Seattle, Chris and his wife Amy moved to New York to continue a career in music and theater. What he didn't realize at the time, was that he was leaving behind a career he would spend the next 10 years trying to get back to.

Time to get back...

During those 10 years Chris was carving for the enjoyment of it. However, his work was noticed by Wisconsin Public Television and he was asked to be a Guest Artist during their annual spring art auction. He also received several word of mouth commissions.  He gradually branched out into restoration and in 2010 was hired to help replicate a 100 year old altar facade and niche that were damaged in a fire.  

 

Into the Future...  

 Chris continues to work in restoration but loves taking commissions.  He enjoys the commission process more than trying to create something he thinks people will like.  "Working on commission, for me, is a much more rewarding process.  Trying to pin down what someone is interested in, designing it and then hammering it out is a wonderful challenge. Creating something three-dimensionally, quarter round, bas relief or whatever is sometimes hard for people to wrap their brains around. People come in with an idea, and by the end of our discussion it has grown into something greater than they had envisioned.  I like that.  I like the challenge of pulling out an idea they haven't thought of that expresses what they really want."

 

 

Solstice Woodcarving...Restoration...Conservation...Commission...Special Projects...Eco Friendly