by Bruce Strand, Arts editor
Charolett Salo visited Tales and Trails sportsman shop in Zimmerman a few months ago with her son, to buy him some BB’s, and she had a second mission that led to a nice partnership.
“Charolett asked me if I’d be interested in showing some of her art work,” said Scott Maricle, the store owner. “And I asked her if she would be interested in doing a big mural for me.”
Salo spent two weeks burning the 8-foot-high logo (basically a silhouette of an archer)into the pine wall, much to the owner’s pleasure. Now Tails and Trails is another venue where she can display her wood-burnings, at least those depicting wildlife.
Salo’s pieces in the store included the dueling bucks on a slab from a pine tree, and the small profile of a buck on a mushroom from a tree, shown here.
“My dad, uncle and grandpa were hunters,” said Salo, who grew up in jackpine country near Ely. “I’m not a hunter myself, but not opposed to it. For some reason I gravitate to wildlife art, even though in my own house I am more of a flowers and curvy lines kind of a girl.”
Salo said she’s filled a variety of requests for her wood-burning skills including “a lot of pet memorials” for folks who want something nice to remember a dog or cat, portraits of children that parents give to grandma, drawings of motorcycles (“yes, a lot of people really love their motorcycles”) and wildlife on gun stocks, which are a bit more effort because the wood is harder than she’s used to.
Salo figures her masterpiece is a 14-foot long bar top for a home in Mora that included a lake scene above and below water, fish, beaver, a herd of deer, canoe paddles, dragonflies and the couple’s house on the lake, a complex piece on three separate panels.
The Tales and Trails project was “really a challenge, which I like.” She had to grid the small logo and create 19 panels 2 by 2.5 feet each to enlarge it accurately, and had to learn how to use a butane torch to darken the silhouette. It would have taken “a couple years” to shade all that with her usual tool, a multi-purpose, wedge-shaped tip. Maricle offered the butane torch he uses.
“I had fear of it but it wound up being fun,” she said. “Yeah, she didn’t want to use that torch, but it worked,” said Maricle. “And now she’s got that in her arsenal, too.”
Other than butane torches, wood-burning is probably the least expensive art form there is, with regard to equipment you need. She says she’s got everything she needs in a $12 Walnut Hollow basic set.
Salo, a mother of three who was a bartender before going into wood burning full time, doesn’t follow the art world much or have any favorites. She’s just doing something she likes and enjoying that others like her work, too.