When Phil Holtan isn't turning pieces of wood into nearly-translucent bowls for people to use, he can be found serving as pastor for Calvary Lutheran Church in Perham, Minn.
This week, however, Holtan can be found in Copenhagen Hall at the Norsk Hostfest on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds turning wood in his portable hut at his booth. This week also marks his 20th year displaying his woodturned items at the Hostfest.
While at the Hostfest, Holtan takes a small-sized block of wood, makes some measurements for the size he wants the item to be, and then turns it with a lathe in his portable hut. Afterward he'll treat the wood and let it settle before adding it to his display. The entire process takes a month or so, Holtan said.
Jill Hambek/MDN • Phil Holtan?turns a piece of wood at his booth Thursday in Copenhagen Hall at the Norsk Høstfest on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds. This is his 20th year demonstrating and displaying his woodturning craft at the Høstfest.
Holtan said he started woodturning in Minot in 1979 while a pastor at First Lutheran Church, but he's been working with wood in some way for his whole life. He met a man named Victor Nordquist, he noted, who taught him some techniques. Now Holtan teaches people how to turn wood at weekend workshops at his home in Minnesota. He's even had students from Minot, he added.
"It's an ancient craft and it's being rediscovered by many," Holtan remarked.
A favorite part about woodturning is finding good wood and figuring out what he can do to bring that out, Holtan said. There's a thrill in the chase of finding good pieces of wood, he said. Holtan said he also enjoys bringing his woodturned items to the Hostfest. One of his favorite woods to turn is spalted Boxelder burl wood.
Holtan said he turns wood every work day and on his days off. "It provides a nice balance."
Next week Holtan will be the featured artist at a gallery in Fergus Falls, but is grateful to Minot since it's where he got his start in woodturning, he noted. "You can't do art without the patrons," he said. "And Minot has been very good in their support of the arts."
Business at Holtan's booth has been good, he noted. "I love the community here and seeing old friends. It's like a reunion."