Welcome to my website and blog on christendokksmith.com!

As a passionate wood carver and artist I am excited to share my work and thoughts with you whether you are an art collector, looking for a wood carver, a fellow craftsperson or simply appreciate the beauty of wood carving.

It is my goal that this blog will be a way for me to talk about wood carving, current or past projects, specific styles of carving, and other ideas that occupy my mind.

First, let me start by introducing myself. My name is Christen Dokk Smith and I am a classically trained woodcarver from the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. I currently live in Tofino, BC with my two great loves, my wife Robyn and my daughter Freyja. These two beautiful girls are the centre of my universe and the reason I wake up with a big smile on my face every day.

Being able to work in such an amazing medium as wood is simply a bonus - a great privilege. After coming to Tofino, I started taking an interest in First Nation culture and traditions. Not to make First Nation art, but to learn more about the underlying aspects of their carving and connection to nature. This kind of knowledge was not part of my training at the Viking Ship Museum, where we approached carving from a more technical point of view. Here, in British Columbia, I have been participating in sweat lodges; I have learned from First Nation artists and elders; and hiked through old-growth Cedar forest. This has given me a deeper connection to myself and the world around me, and a huge respect for the trees themselves. Now I strive to use only locally salvaged wood or sustainably logged wood in my artwork. I will write about my first meeting and tutelage with a First Nation elder in a later blog.

If you continue to come back to this blog (which I hope you will) you will find posts of my recent projects with more in-depth information about the inspiration behind each piece and techniques I used. I will write about Viking art and culture, which is near and dear to me, and my work at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway, just to entice you with some of what is to come.

My next blog will be about my introduction to woodcarving when I was a child, and later, when Bjärte Aarseth invited me to apprentice at the Viking Ship Museum to begin my formal apprenticeship.

Thank you for taking the time to visit christendokksmith.com. I hope to see you back here in the future.

The Beginning


I grew up as the oldest child of three with my parents just outside of Oslo, Norway. My father first introduced me to woodcarving when I was about seven years old. In the house where I grew up, we had a spare room in the basement which functioned as my dad's tool room. Even though the room was cold, dark, and dusty, it was my favourite room in the house where I could be in solitude and make space for creativity to happen.

We had a small lathe and every Christmas, as a kid, I would go downstairs and turn a small candle holder for my mom. The excitement of seeing the shavings shoot off from the piece of the wood, the feel of the different tools as they touched the wood, the mixture of deep V-cuts to smooth curves. How fine I could quickly sand the sculpture on the lathe and the smell of warm wood dust. And, at the end, a coat of oil, how it made the wood come to life with all its richness and character. Last, was the excitement of giving my mom the gift on Christmas Eve as I proudly handed her my very own creation.

My grandfather introduced me later to woodcarving. He helped me carve my first burl bowl in a piece of Birch. How hard I had to work pushing the spoon gouge through the wood; a cut in the hand, a bandage, another cut, and the comfort from a patient grandfather as the bowl slowly took shape.



As I grew older these amazing memories were soon replaced with sports and other activities. But, I guess, as much as I had left my mark on the wood, the wood had also made its permanent mark on me.

Years went by before I one day found myself at a meditation workshop in Oslo. Over the course of the weekend-long workshop I came in contact with a man named Bjärte Aarseth, a master caver at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway. We started talking and, before the workshop ended, I was invited to become his apprentice at the museum. I politely declined and said it would be interesting to visit him at the museum, but I had other plans in life.

Months went by before I contacted Bjärte Aarseth asking if he had time to show me his studio. I met Bjärte on a sunny spring day; the trees outside of the Viking Museum were in full bloom. Bjärte, in his always cheerful mood, came to the door as I rang the doorbell. What happened next can't really be described in words, but when I stepped into his workshop, time stopped for a moment and a strong feeling of coming home came over me. I had not just found a home at the museum but also an internal search for a place to call home, a calling, subsided.

It felt great reconnecting with Bjärte. He took the time to show me the museum and his job − making security copies of the old artefacts. I spent a few days with him, where he re-introduced me to woodcarving. I carved my first pieces since my grandfather had patiently guided me through the same process, nearly two decades earlier. Life had come full circle.

I spent four years at the Viking Ship Museum, learning about Viking carving, Medieval carving, Baroque Arcanthas, and Rococo. A scholarship through the EU brought me to London, England to broaden my knowledge in three-dimensional sculpture at the City & Guilds of London Art School.

I got to work with master shipbuilders recreating a copy of the Oseberg Viking Ship, expert furniture restorers saving 200-year-old furniture, to make a copy of the Madonna and Child from Biri Church, and to create security copies for the museum − to name a few of the projects I was involved with during these years.

As I work, I often think back on my years at the Viking Ship Museum. I can't thank Bjärte enough for that invitation at the meditation workshop and for waiting for me. Many thanks to my father and grandfather who lit a fire in a young kid's heart, and to Bjärte for teaching me the art of patience.