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Hello from Havre, Montana, USA

JP Anderson

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My name is John P. Anderson, one of a few million Andersons populating the world. I'm 50 and live in a rural area just outside Havre, Montana. I've been an artist for 20+ years but only gave it serious effort in the early years and again these past 3-4 years. I liked to illustrate and draw, with a background in pencil, pen and ink. I came to carving and engraving somewhat sideways.


I learned to draw in my late twenties after deciding to fill one of my college Humanities classes with Freehand Drawing 101. The instructor relished torturing students who thought they had taken an easy class. He was a great teacher and something finally clicked at the very end of the course. I could draw, not great but I had my moments.


In 2002 an old injury changed my life a bit. Life as I knew it, working and flying, was over and I needed new goals. I learned to love creating things when I built an airplane, so just drawing pictures wasn't fulfilling enough anymore. While searching for new creative outlets, I was drawn to the beauty of old black powder guns and other art of wood and metal. Airplanes were a way of life and this looked to be a good substitute.


I love the learning process and doubt I'll ever specialize. Commercial success isn't a goal. My goal is to build objects out of wood and metal while I enjoy learning new skills. Be it a new tool, box, knife or flintlock that I'm building, I try and do my very best. I often fall short of what I had in mind, but that's ok - if it were easy I wouldn't have enjoyed trying. I've enjoyed building almost all my tools and other accoutrements to the craft from scrap iron and discarded wood scraps.


I admit I find it intimidating to post with the master works I see on this forum. But I also feel art is best experienced if you participate as well as observe.


When I decided to try building an antique pistol from scratch, I knew I needed to develop my skills if I wanted it to look good. I needed to learn carving and engraving to go with my fabrication skills. I started with what I had, so I carved the stock of my .22 rifle, an inexpensive Chinese clone of a Browning Semi-Auto. The screw plate was carved using homemade push gravers. The stock, very poor wood, I carved with a set of finger chisels given to us long, long ago that sat mostly unused for 15 years. For the checkering I used a beginner's checkering set from Brownell's. I hope to engrave the rest when my skills and tools improve.










I won't be posting as much as I like on this and other forums as I must pick my battles. My old body only has capacity for a couple of hours of detailed work per day, be it pounding on a keyboard or at the bench. Most of my time I'll spend at the bench, but I think you also need to pay back the world for what it teaches, so I'll also reserve time each week for contributing to the forums that have inspired my work.


Thank You,

John P. Anderson

Havre, Montana

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Janel, I'll write up something on checkering and post it in Tools & Technical. Now that you mention it I don't think it's ever been covered on TCP. I need pictures of my tools, etc. I did start on it but it quickly became a complex subject when I accounted for your world audience.


Thank you comments Jim. They pretty much sum up my philosophy. I know that from a technical standpoint I'll never be a master so I just try and keep my work simple.

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  • 2 years later...

Hi John:


I am new to this forum and Havre, Montana caught my eye. I lived in Billings for a while and actually my former husband and I applied for a ranch hand job in Havre. Its been years - 1987 or 1988 or something. Is there a big ranch up there owned by I believe there names are Bill and Barbara Cowin? It seems like they have reining / performance horses and cattle, etc. It was pretty there.


Your wood carvings are great! I wanted to ask you about the images of what looks like a pendant or something? Isn't this some type of good luck or protection charm or symbol for kayakers or something? My husband is heavy into kayaking and I thought I have seen that particular pendant around.


Do you sell any of your work?

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JP, My friend, there is NOTHING wrong with your work. I's sure there are lots of people who wish they could carve as well as you do. I love guns and knives and make a few knives myself. I really like your work on the stock and forearm. Thanks for sharing the photo's and I look forward to seeing many more.

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"I wanted to ask you about the images of what looks like a pendant or something? Isn't this some type of good luck or protection charm or symbol for kayakers or something? My husband is heavy into kayaking and I thought I have seen that particular pendant around."


The piece you asked about is a plate under the screw that holds the forearm on a .22 rifle. As far as the design it was a doodle that turned into my first engraving. If it symbolizes anything it must be something that happened to me back in the 70's.


The Cowans are doing fine last I heard. There nice people. I've never met Barbara but I know Bill. She's part of American history.


Things haven't changed much in these parts. We had a long hard winter that's making calving tough on everyone we know. It's almost over.


I'm a hobby carver and haven't done anything with plans to sell.


I checked out your website awhile back and I'm very impressed not only with the art but the elbow grease involved. Gotta love a women that can run a hammer.



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