“Being of Pennsylvania German Heritage and growing up in South Eastern Pennsylvania, I was always surrounded by wonderful folk art. As a young adult, I had a mentor, Lester Breininger, who was a renowned redware potter. He encouraged me to carve after I took a local adult ed class on Pennsylvania folk craft. The carvings I saw really impressed me. So I got a pocket knife and a piece of wood and Lester and I would carve on Sunday afternoons.” -Daniel Strawser
Dan Strawser’s sculptures instantly put a smile on your face. His wood carvings range from stand-alone birds and animals with the personality of Dr. Seuss characters to a whimsical collection of animals that perhaps you’ve walked into the middle of their conversation but they’re interested in you joining in. To capture that spirit with just a pocket knife is not only admirable but it is completely a gift that Dan has been blessed with.
Dan’s not the only Strawser behind these magical creatures. Dan does all the carving but his wife, Donna Strawser, finishes with paint and earthy finishes to give these pieces their traditional old-time feel. In fact, Dan’s been carving professionally since the 1970s and, from time to time, you can find his older pieces for sale online or in antique stores as collector’s pieces (as they certainly are) — but you might be hard pressed to tell if they are decades old or brand new. They have such a wonderful timeless quality to them. And ultimately, it doesn’t matter. Each piece is a treasure to admire and holds lifetimes of tradition inside every cut and each stroke of paint.
Using only a pocket knife, Dan carves his creations out of pine or basswood. The forms are then painted by his wife, Donna, adding another element of personality to the pieces. Dan’s attention to detail and sourcing high quality wood make for creations that are timeless and ready to be enjoyed for generations. The folk art tradition truly lives on in his work.