Fan carving flourished in Europe for untold generations before immigrants brought it to Michigan lumber camps in the 19th century. Some old-time lumberjacks had rough reputations but most were family men, away from home for the winter. They spent long evenings sitting around a stove—singing, carving and telling stories.
Glen’s grandfather Elmer was a third-generation Michigan logger who learned cedar fan carving in the camps. Later, he taught Glen’s father, and later yet they both taught Glen how to carve fans. In turn, Glen has taught the art to his own children and grandchildren.
Four generations of Van Antwerps at the National Folk Festival in 2001 when Glen was awarded the Michigan Heritage Award. From left to right: Stanley, Glen, Jeremy, and James Van Antwerp(front). Photo by: Jennifer VanAntwerp
Glen lives near Tustin, Michigan on property that has been family land for more than a century. He harvests Northern White Cedar from his own land, using windfall timber and saving living trees for future generations. His favorite carvings come from the deeply weathered wood of old split-cedar fence posts.