In his Loveland, Colorado, ward, Primary teacher and sculptor Blair Muhlstein balances his three great joys: sculpting, teaching children, and living the gospel.
Twenty years ago, Blair served as Cubmaster in his ward in Delaware. As a gift for “his” boys, he carved a neckerchief slide for each Cub Scout. Though he’d never carved before, he discovered he had a gift for working with wood. From neckerchief slides, he advanced to more complicated projects. A carving of a banjo player caught the attention of a friend who asked if Blair would sell it.
“Wow! My work was good enough that people would actually pay for it,” he remembers. That was the beginning.
For the next fifteen years, Blair continued to work with wood, designing and carving everything from turtles to faces in driftwood. Five years ago, he switched to sculpting in bronze, seeking the freedom for maximum creativity and flexibility it allows.
“For my third bronze piece I decided that my subject would be something I knew and loved—children! They continue to provide the inspiration and innocence that I wish to portray in my work.” In studying the children who serve as his models, he has sought to express their inner selves rather than merely their appearance.
Blair is often inspired by a piece as it progresses, and he makes changes as the sculpture develops. One piece, “Home Delivery,” is a life-size figure of a boy delivering newspapers. “Best Friends” depicts a girl dancing with her doll. Another sculpture, “911,” portrays a policeman lifting a small girl to rescue her kitten from a tree. Though each piece is different, all contain a common theme of happy, active children.
“As a mechanical engineer, I designed many machines and mechanisms,” explains Blair. “But sculpting the human figure has taught me a valuable lesson in the intricacy of godly creations.”
Blair gives a carved figurine to the children in his class who memorize the first four articles of faith, and he tries to stay in touch with them as they grow up. When they are older, they receive a business card and a promise. “‘Send me this card and an announcement of your temple sealing, and I’ll send you an original work,’ I tell them. It’s my way of teaching about covenants.”
Blair is quick to credit his success to his wife, Sarah, who handles the business end of his work. Together, they take great joy in the gospel, sculpture, and children.—, Loveland, Colorado
Broadcasting the Gospel
Not every woman has a state legislature pass a resolution in her honor, but Rachel Craig of the Kotzebue Branch, Anchorage Alaska Bush District, has. Sister Craig was recognized by the Fifteenth Alaska Legislature for her work in cultural affairs in the Northwest Arctic School District; for promoting cross-cultural understanding through writing and lecturing on the native Inupiaq language; for her selection as Outstanding Graduating Senior Woman at the University of Alaska; and for helping share and preserve the Eskimo heritage.
Living on the tip of an icy finger of land that reaches into the Chukchi Sea just above the Bering Strait, Rachel is both an influential citizen and one of the few members of the Church in the area. Her testimony affects everything she does. For example, every Sunday Rachel and her husband, David, broadcast a brief religious radio program over the local radio. David writes the sermonettes in English, and Rachel translates them into her native Inupiaq language. Both versions are broadcast.
Although Rachel grew up in Kotzebue, she met David in Seattle, Washington, where she was going to school. They were married in 1959 and later adopted a son. As their son grew, they felt the need to provide him with religious upbringing. The missionaries came into their life from two directions at once—through telephone contacting and when a friend invited the family to listen to the discussions in their home.
After thirteen years of marriage, the Craigs decided to return to Kotzebue. The Craigs were happy to see the organization of the first branch in the area.
“We don’t have a lot of new members yet,” Rachel reports. “But the people here often comment positively on our radio program.”
Rachel has been very influential in gathering histories and genealogies of her people. Anthropologists have worked in this area for decades and have not been able to acquire some information because of the language barrier and the reluctance of some people to share information with strangers. But they willingly talk with Rachel.
In her, they know they have found a sister.—, Fairbanks, Alaska
Talents to Last a Lifetime
Harold Felt’s interests are certainly varied; they range from mortuaries to music and from rabbits to woodwork. Always eager to learn and experiment, Brother Felt has enjoyed improving his talents.
As a young man, he worked as a licensed mortician in Ogden, Utah. He opened his own mortuary in Brigham City after marrying Lillian Hayes. Although he sold the business and retired, he filled his time with new interests. He enrolled in a correspondence course in photography and opened Felt’s Heirloom Photography. He was elected Brigham City’s mayor, raised rabbits and African violets, earned his pilot’s license and became co-owner of Seagull Aviation, and tried his hand at building grandfather clocks.
But one of his greatest loves has been music. An adept violin player, he often accompanied his wife when she performed. Sometimes he even sang with her. After refining his woodworking skills on clocks, he decided to venture into violin making.
Now at the age of eighty-three, he spends many hours crafting beautiful instruments out of different delicate woods; throughout his home are scattered violins in various stages of construction. He recently completed a 3/4 size violin on which he taught his grandson to play.
Brother Felt freely shares his gift and love for music with others. He was concert master with the Northern Utah Symphony Orchestra, director of the Box Elder stake choir, and organizer of the Senior Swingers, a band of senior citizens who play for three hours without using any sheet music. The group plays regularly at nursing homes in the area, as well as parties and other community activities.
Brother Felt is a high priests group instructor in the Brigham City Ninth Ward, Brigham City Utah Box Elder Stake.—, Brigham City, Utah
In the Spotlight
Rodney M. Atack, a colonel in the United States Army, is the recipient of the John W. Macy Jr. Award for Outstanding Leadership of Army Civilians. Brother Atack serves as second counselor in the Silver Spring Maryland Stake presidency and is director of the Army Audiology and Speech Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Chief meteorologist for CBS affiliate WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Mike Fairbourne returned from this year’s International Weather Forecasters Festival in France with the first-place trophy. Brother Fairbourne, who is stake clerk in the Minneapolis Minnesota Stake, was one of four meteorologists from the United States invited to the festival.
Dean A. Wright, director of food services at Utah State University, has been voted president-elect of the National Association of College and University Food Services. A high councilor in the Logan Utah Central Stake, Brother Wright was also honored with the association’s Lichtenfelt Award for outstanding service during the annual conference held in Kansas City, Missouri.
Betty J. Sorensen was recently reelected chairman of the Alberta Municipal Association for Culture for a second term. Sister Sorensen, a Gospel Doctrine teacher in the Medicine Hat Third Ward, Taber Alberta Stake, helped found the organization of representatives from allied arts councils and others in Alberta who are interested in culture and the arts.
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