How to Make a Totem Pole: Part Two (Pictures and Video)

Why would two grown white men, one really old, want to make a totem pole?

Before I ask that again, I must admit my last post on How to Make a Totem Pole didn’t really explain much of the nuts and bolts, so here I try to illuminate parts of the process with pictures and videos. If you are in a hurry just skip to the bold items. It’ll still make complete sense.

Step 1. Find out what works for other people.

We’d never made a totem pole before so we thought, why not find out how other people do it? We tried to signing up for a class with the Learning Anex, but go figure, they didn’t have one. Instead, the internet and a couple good books provided inspiration and answered some technical questions. We bought this one because of the pictures.

Step 2. Make prototypes.

Totem Design on a Rolled CylinderWith no risk involved, we took small steps to visualize our idea as quickly as possible. We made a bunch of drawings and then realized flat doesn’t translate to round very easily, so we stuck our hands in clay and rolled some paper cylinders. It was a lot of fun and also made us more excited to do the actual thing.

Step 3. Visualize in Vivo.

Kinkos is a good thing. Dad had blown up our drawings so we could wrap them around the tree. Michelangelo taught us how to poke holes around the contour of the drawings and, by tamping the holes with charcoal dust, leave a dotted line of our design on the tree. Sharpies are a big improvement on the Renaissance charcoal tamping technique. Shows you how far we’ve come in just five centuries.

Step 4. Dig in like you mean it.

Lesson learned: There’s nothing like a chain saw to get a guy thinking he has balls.

Step 5. Avoid making the same mistake twice.

My brand new iPad got its first crack when I tripped over the shrubs and knocked it over. I didn’t do that again, but I did fall off the ladder. I’m definitely my old man’s son.

The video

So here it is: I brilliantly call it A Lapse in Totem. Mr. Scruff† made the music. I really hope he’ll say that’s okay.

So now the question again:

Why would two grown white men, one really old, want to make a
totem pole?

In answer I give you a poem by Dick Lourie. This version was read at the end of the movie Smoke Signals. I don’t think it’s printed so I took some liberty with breaks and spacing.

How do we forgive our Fathers?
Maybe in a dream

Do we forgive our Fathers for leaving us too often
or forever when we were little?

Maybe for scaring us with unexpected rage
or making us nervous because there never
seemed to be any rage there at all.

Do we forgive our Fathers for marrying
or not marrying our Mothers?
For Divorcing or not divorcing our Mothers?

And shall we forgive them for their excesses
of warmth or coldness?
Shall we forgive them for pushing or leaning
for shutting doors for speaking through walls
or never speaking or never being silent?

Do we forgive our Fathers in our age or in theirs
or their deaths saying it to them or not saying it?

If we forgive our Fathers what is left?


See more photos on my dad’s totem blog here.

Mr. Scruff lives here.

(Visited 3,491 times, 1 visits today)
Share on Facebook


Leave a comment6 comments on "How to Make a Totem Pole: Part Two (Pictures and Video)"

  1. I love this!

  2. Please post the finished totem pole! I want to see it! Thanks!

  3. dayum!!! that poem really got me… “if we forgive our fathers, what is left?” it takes true cojones to do it and find out!!! kudos and high fives to you and your old man! can’t wait to see how it turns out, yo! 🙂

  4. What a terrific article and video, David. I envy your experience with your dad. That was a stretch. You’re a good man.

  5. Hey would you mind letting me know which webhost you’re working with? I’ve loaded your blog in
    3 completely different web browsers and I must say this blog loads a
    lot faster then most. Can you suggest a good web hosting provider at a reasonable price?
    Kudos, I appreciate it!

Add Your Comment

 characters available

Notify me of any followup comments.