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2007 Woodcarvers of the Year: Ed Gallenstein

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image Ed Gallenstein (right) receives an award from Don Worley at the Dayton (OH) Artistry in Wood Show.

Connecting the carving community through the written word.

A quick comparison with other hobby organizations illustrates the incredible legacy of Ed Gallenstein. The largest national association of woodturners has a membership of 13,000 and a multi-person staff . A national association of scroll saw artists has 1,000 members. In fact, we know of no woodworking association of any size, general woodworkers included, that even approaches the membership size of the NWCA. Ed’s national organization has spawned the creation of almost 400 local carving clubs who look to the NWCA for help in promoting membership, increasing show attendance, and networking in general.

Ed Gallenstein, an avid woodcarver since 1935, first heard about the National Wood Carvers Association in 1962. The organization’s dedication to the interests of amateur and professional carvers and whittlers is very dear to Ed’s heart, and he was honored to be elected president of the NWCA in 1971.

Even before assuming the important role of president, Ed contributed to the carving community through his involvement in the organization’s publication, Chip Chats. The publication began in 1953 when founding member of the NWCA, Stephen LePage, distributed a three-page bulletin to the organization’s 19 members. The founders of the NWCA were not professionals or even particularly skilled carvers; they were just hobbyists who wanted to converse with others with similar interests. Ed carries on that tradition today with a 132 page publication distributed to more than 30,000 members of the NWCA. 56 Woodcarving Illustrated | FALL 2007 Ed Gallenstein (right) receives an award from Don Worley at the Dayton (OH) Artistry in Wood Show. Photo courtesy of Jack A. Williams Ed Gallenstein Connecting the carving community through the written word This article from The Enquirer in Cincinnati, OH, was the first step in Ed’s journey to becoming the editor of Chip Chats.

The Enquirer
This article from The Enquirer in Cincinnati, OH, was the first step in Ed’s journey to becoming the editor of Chip Chats.

Ed’s first brush with fame was an article published in The Enquirer in Cincinnati, OH, featuring his carving talents. John Giglio, a professionally-trained Italian carver, saw the article and contacted Ed. The two carvers became friends, and Ed wrote and submitted an article about Giglio to then editor of Chip Chats, Leo Sawyer. Leo was so impressed with the article, that he asked Ed to join the staff of Chip Chats. At that time, NWCA membership was growing rapidly, and the number of pages in the newsletter were expanding as well.

As Leo prepared for retirement, he began transitioning responsibilities for the publication to Ed. Under Ed’s tutelage, the publication evolved from a mimeographed, bulletin-type newsletter to a “real magazine.” In the early 70s the magazine was printed and folded by a commercial printer, then the signatures went to Ed’s house where his wife and four children pitched in to collate, staple, trim, and pack the magazines. Chip Chats remained headquartered in the Gallenstein home for 23 years until they first rented office space in 1988.

As president, Ed worked to establish an NWCA-sponsored scholarship at the Miami University of Oxford, OH, to benefit a Department of Art student interested in sculpture/woodcarving. Ed worked tirelessly to collect the names of individual woodcarving clubs in the country and to make that information available to the general public. Individual carvers could then locate and connect wiTheach other in a social setting.

Chip Chats
The first full-color Chip Chats cover, May 1976.

In 1976 Ed introduced a coming events calendar to Chip Chats. Carvers could now find out when and where events were happening in their area, and who to contact for more information. Th is monumental task was the first of its kind and connected carvers in a way that was not previously possible. At 84 years old, Ed is still committed to building the carving community, although the magazine keeps him too busy to carve.

“Whenever I travel to a new part of the U.S. or even the world, and have some extra time to explore— a quick call to Ed always yields a promising carver to visit”—Alan Giagnocavo, president of Fox Chapel Publishing shares. “I’ve met carvers in Germany who greeted me with tears in their eyes when they found out I was a friend of Ed’s. Carvers’ appreciation for Ed and the work of the NWCA is universal. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Ed is really woodcarving’s secret weapon. Ed WAS a one-man Internet for carvers for many, many years. He helped many carving writers and businesses—including my own—get started.”

Ed was the first recipient of the Dayton (OH) Carving Guild’s Ron Ryan award. The award is presented to one person in the carving world who demonstrates the ideals of selfl ess giving, expressing goodwill, and exerting the extra eff ort needed to promote these qualities in one’s own community, and throughout the woodcarving world in general.

Wayne Barton, WCI’s 2005 Woodcarver of the Year, noted chip carving author/instructor, and frequent contributor to Chip Chats, believes Ed is woodcarving’s greatest promoter.

“It is because of Ed’s efforts and vision that our carving community is considered ‘home’ to so many carvers today,” Barton said. “Ed brought us all together and made us a family of which we can all be proud. His dedicated, unselfish efforts, through the NWCA and the publication of Chip Chats, have made woodcarving the wonderful community it is today.”

A memorable feat Ed arranged a truly amazing carving trip in 1973. Three bus loads, consisting of 164 people, attended the 21-day event, touring Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Holland, and England. For many carvers, it was this was their first trip outside of the U.S. Ed acted as sole trip planner, tour guide, and troubleshooter.

Attendees of the first worldwide meeting of woodcarvers.

“It was a great success,” Ed said. “Although, it wasn’t easy,” he added with a laugh. “They asked me about doing it again, and I said fine, but get someone else to do it!”

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