Master woodcarver Deraas dies at 90Philip Deraas spent most of his life as a farmer and carpenter, but it was a hobby he took up in his later years that brought him regional fame.
Philip Deraas spent most of his life as a farmer and carpenter, but it was a hobby he took up in his later years that brought him regional fame.
The renowned Norwegian-style woodcarver died Thursday at his rural Wanamingo home. He was 90.
"He was a natural talent from the start," said his daughter, Judy Davis of Wanamingo.
A common fixture at area Scandinavian festivals, Derass was well-known for his hand carved kubbestols, tine boxes and porridge buckets, and for a weekly woodcarving class he taught from his home.
One of his longtime students, Ralph Forss of rural Wanamingo, described Derass as a "hardworking Norwegian" with a passion for teaching the art of woodcarving.
"He's a wonderful guy and he taught me a lot," Forss said.
Deraas became acquainted with woodcarving in his late 60s, after a fellow Sons of Norway member suggested that he travel to Barronett, Wis., to learn the art from professional carver Phillip Odden of Norsk Wood Works.
The hobby stuck, and Derass soon gained the distinction of master woodcarver. He would spend "all day long, every day" in his shop, said Davis, perfecting his carving skills and learning new ones by trial and error.
Even as his health declined in recent years, she said, Deraas' hobby continued.
"He would rebound and still go down and carve," she said.