Arrow-right Camera

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Wednesday, September 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Clear Night 51° Clear
News >  Spokane

Woodworkers share passion, donate undersea-themed artwork to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital

Many people think scrolling is something you do on your smartphone or computer, but for the Inland Northwest Scrollers, scrolling is how they create beautiful works of art.

The group of dedicated woodworkers takes its name from the scroll saws used in crafting projects. They meet monthly at Woodcraft of Spokane in Spokane Valley.

Club president Richard Gardner said they share shop tips and projects, and there’s always time for show-and-tell.

Recently, group members presented one of their creations to Providence Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital.

The large, undersea-themed piece featured brightly colored fish and marine life, and even an iconic mermaid perched atop a treasure chest.

“This was truly a group project,” founding member Harlem Sandberg said. “Every member participated.”

Sandberg presented the work to Mike Barsotti, chief administration officer and chief medical officer of Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital, in honor of recently deceased past-president Dave Cox.

“Because of Dave’s sincere efforts and true passion for this piece, we decided to present it to the Children’s Hospital in his honor,” said Sandberg.

Several members of Cox’s family were present as Sandberg spoke of his friend’s love of teaching and his skill at bending wood to create intricate and whimsical work.

“We had a lot of fun spinning tops when he showed us how to make them,” recalled Sandberg.

Barsotti accepted the work on behalf of the hospital.

“This is beautiful – phenomenal. We’re honored in the work you did,” he said. “At the Children’s Hospital we deal with sick kids, and anything we can do to make their stay more normal is medicine in and of itself.”

Following the presentation, members chatted about current projects and even showed off a piece or two.

“Dave was all about show-and-tell,” said Robin Redman.

She’s not the only woman in the group, but, she said, “I’m the only one they pick on!”

Redman was instrumental in their first group project. She discovered the club while looking for a woodworker to create a piece for the snowshoe hut at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.

The Inland Northwest Scrollers took on the project and created a piece depicting the flora and fauna found in the area. The work has been installed at the snowshoe hut.

And Redman found a new hobby and a new group of friends.

“I hadn’t done woodworking since I was a kid,” she said. “It’s so much fun. It’s like sewing.”

The craftsmanship of the members is evidenced in everything from their wooden nametags to examples of recent work.

Wally Kuchling brought an intricately carved piece with a Northwest theme, featuring a bear, an eagle, a mountain in the background and the words, “America Land of the Free.”

“I enjoy using Baltic birch,” he said.

Like most hobbies, scroll sawing can get consuming.

“You can become addicted to patterns,” said Kuchling. “You can never have enough patterns or tools.”

Steve Empting agreed.

“I retired from UPS after 25 years, now I can scroll saw full time,” he said, smiling.

Mike Keegan’s love of the craft started when his wife bought him a scroll saw.

“Now, every year I make Christmas gifts for the family,” he said.

His passion proved contagious.

“My son got a scroll saw, and now he’s teaching my grandson how to use it.”

Club members bemoan the absence of shop class in public schools and worry that younger generations won’t be exposed to the delights of woodworking.

As often as possible, Inland Northwest Scrollers hosts groups at the monthly meeting.

“We’ve had Cub Scouts and kids from Hutton Settlement,” said Richard Gardner.

Folks with all levels of skill or interest are welcome at the meetings; if they join the club, there’s a nominal $12 yearly fee.

When asked about the allure of scroll sawing, Sandberg smiled.

“It’s the satisfaction of creating something and enjoying the process,” he said. “It makes you want other people to learn it, too.”

Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.

You have been successfully subscribed!
There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email