How To Carve Totem Poles

Inspirational self-published author Paul N. Luvera became an expert on carving totem poles in his ninth decade of life.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editors
January/February 1978
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The author shares how to carve totem poles in his self-published book.
Photo By Fotolia/Andrea Izzotti

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Learn how to carve totem poles from expert Paul N. Luvera's book.

How To Carve Totem Poles

The smiling man with the mallet and gouge is Paul N. Luvera Sr. And Paul who's nearing the start of his ninth decade on this planet he just written and self-published an unusual book titled How to Curve Totem Poles.

No, Mr. Luvera isn't really a writer . . . or a publisher . . . or even a wood-carver. (He spent most of his life as a grocer.) But everybody at some point in his or her life falls in love with totem poles, right? And an awful lot of us secretly believer-way down in our most secret heart of hearts — that we could write a book, don't we? And all of us love a good story in which the main character (say someone who has written a book) gets the cold shoulder again and again (from, maybe, as many as 23 "real" publishers) . . . but who wins in the end by gritting his teeth, publishing his own book, and then watching that book become a big success.

Well, the hero in this case isn't any cardboard character from a cheap TV program. The hero is real, live, grandfather-of-14 Paul N. Luvera, Sr Who really was a grocer most of his life. Who really did fall in love with totem poles at some point in his life. Who eventually learned enough about this native North American art to write a book on the subject Who saw that book turned down by 23 "real" publishers. Who then took the bit in his teeth and self-published the manual himself. And who has already watched his original 5,000 copies of the guide sell so well . . . that he's currently going back on press for another run!

And the reason that Paul is selling out of How to Carve Totem Poles is because the book so lovingly tells precisely how to create a totem just as impressive as the ones in his book. And it just as lovingly details a great deal more about the traditions of the Northwest native peoples of this continent (who, as you know, are famous for their totems). And because it also tells you how to carve and assemble other things such as the beautiful cradle in his book . . . which, believe it or not, was put together without a single screw or nail. And because a chapter in the book by Paul's wife, Mary, explains the proper way in which to paint a totem to give it an authentic look. And just because.

How to Carve Totem Poles is a large (8-1/2 by 11) paperback, It contains a number of color plates and many black and white Illustrations, and there's nothing else like it around for $11.95. You can order it directly from the author by sending your $11.95 to Mr. Paul N. Luvera, Sr., 2102 9th St., Anacortes, Washington 98221.

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