Kathy Ravenburg | Santa’s Little Carver

Kathy Ravenberg’s studio looks a little more like a Christmas workshop. All that’s missing are the padding of little elves’ feet and boughs of holly decking the halls. Small carved Santa Claus figures sit on shelves and hang from the walls. It’s a passion that started as a hobby and has now turned into a business.

“It was really fun to walk into a store and see your stuff there,” said Kathy.

Kathy has carved thousands of Santas. The majority are carved from Cypress Knees, a unique cone shaped root, but she’s also carved rolling pins, mortars, and even an historic flag pole topper. Kathy says it’s still amazing to see the interest in her folk craft. Her Santas sit in homes across the world.

Kathy’s subject of choice comes from a dramatic experience her family had when she was a teen. Kathy was working at her dad’s bakery just before Christmas, when an armed gunman robbed the shop. Her father was shot three times. He survived but spent the holiday in the hospital. Kathy said the outpouring of love by her neighbors was awe-inspiring.

“What I thought would be the worst Christmas of my life, turned out to be the most touching,” Kathy recalled.

One neighbor gave them food and another gave a tree. She said the lesson she learned is that Christmas is about giving and the Santa Claus represents that spirit.

Each carving is a labor of love, and she puts that giving spirit into each one even though a diagnosis of Rheumatoid Arthritis hinders her hands at times. Kathy grew up in Ogden, but said Southern Utah has helped her though the physical and emotional pain of her life.

“I felt better here,” said Kathy. “From the get go, I’ve just always felt like I belong here.”

Kathy said she never gets bored of carving as each one is a little bit different depending on flow of the wood. Like any master carver, she just needs to find the “Santa” in the wood, and hopes to inspire that spirit in everyone that sees one of her carvings.