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"For the past twenty years I have spent five days each Christmas season, carving The Elferdinck Project, a story created by an enlightened and delightful friend, John Teichman. It has been a great privilege to carve under a thirty foot Christmas tree in John's store, The Candle Factory, situated on the bay front of beautiful Traverse City, Michigan.
The story being revealed through the carving involves a setting of objects seen through the window of an old wood carving shed discovered in the hills of Leelanau County, along Grand Traverse Bay. In the shed were a small fireplace and the carvings done by Elferdinck as an old man. I am carving in the shoes of Elferdinck, a man who lived in this region from the 1850's through, perhaps, 1890.
The first group of seven objects are the remembrances of the mid-afternoon gathering of the village elders in the wood carving shed of his boyhood in the mountains of eastern Switzerland in the 1830's.

I carved two side panels of a triptych on which Elferdinck recorded notes on his life over the past several years. The first panel depicts the mountain village of his childhood in the Graubunden region of Switzerland; the second depicts a bay-side setting in the Grand Traverse region in his later years. The center, or master panel, begun in 2000 and taking several future visits to complete, sets down Elferdinck's religious and philosophical reflections.
The top of the panel depicts the gathering of faith through grace and through study, with the figures of Saint Francis, representing grace, and Erasmus, representing study. In the top center are three objects, an apple tree of the Garden of Eden; and on either side of the tree are figures of an elephant, representing the eastern god, Ganesh, the facilitator of knowledge, and on the other side, the figure of a jester, representing the impediments of knowledge.

The lower and main portion of the panel will be complex. This year the objective is to begin this portion by carving the formal arched portal, representing the Church, through which Elferdinck observed the Universe of God's creation."

12/10/04 Interview on Interlochen Public Radio in Traverse City, Michigan


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John Schirmer
501 E. Kirkwood
P.O. Box 1806
Fairfield, IA 52556
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