One-of-a-kind Wooden Ornaments with a Local Touch

“Carving is a lot like writing,” says John Hein. “You love doing it, but you have to be in the mood.” Although this Sorenson resident happens to do both year-round, ‘tis the season to focus on his carving, which primarily consists of white pine or basswood Christmas ornaments.

Hein began carving in the 1980s while living in New Hampshire, finding inspiration in the small visitors to his bird feeder. After whittling images of a few feathered friends for a Christmas wreath on his door, his mother-in-law put in a request for 30 or 40 replicas. Carving has been a part of his life ever since.

The birds are now ingrained in Hein’s muscle memory, and he has whipped out hundreds of these little cardinals and chickadees. His newer figure experiments, however, can take up to three hours. Some of the most popular of these figures are the Santa ornaments, with a twist. The classic Scandinavian style Tomte is available, but most of Hein’s Santas appear in full Vikings or Packers garb. Only the Vikings model graces Hein’s own Christmas tree.

Each piece is hand-carved, hand-painted and antiqued, and no two are exactly alike. Hein notes his art has followed an evolution, “It started with birds, then developed with my interests,” but he says “it’s always been Christmas.”

To order one or a dozen of these unique ornaments for your own tree or a friend’s, contact John Hein at 612.419.2159 or