Svein Gunnarstein who hails from Norway and now lives in Florida, seems to have a lot of fun purposely painting his decoys in irreverent patterns and colors. He swears he has good luck spear-fishing with these decoys; he often paints the bottoms more vividly than the tops. I don’t know if Svein will ever be famous….more likely “infamous”, or “notorious”. He laughs when I tell him that, responding only, “well, it works for me!”
About Svein…well, now there’s a lot of mystery surrounding this colorful character. I can promise you this…he will not talk to you and he will not correspond, although, I will continue to gently press him. It was difficult enough to get him to let me list some of his items…then he got into it when they began to sell. Yes, he says he carved the turtle but I gather that he is not that steady any more for such intricate carvings.
He ‘claims’ to be from Norway, from…let me see if I can get this right…Nesoddtangan? He usually says he was born in 1930, but often refers to 1926 as if he were around then. He says he’s 80, but that doesn’t figure. He’s apt to say anything. I believe he wound up in U.S. under shady circumstances, tho that is just a guess. He has been all over…especially Florida, but has settled in Southeast GA. of all places. He lives in a modest mobile home, has goats and dogs. He does get money from somewhere or someone, just enough evidently to live on. Respectfully, he has no teeth, his face is deeply lined and his memory is failing. The only thing I know for certain is that he carves…mostly now ‘whittles’…and he does seem to be quite familiar with ice-fishing. He laughs a lot, speaks very little…and often it is difficult to understand him. I pressed him to start signing his name on his carvings. His handwriting is amazingly steady, legible, and even quite ‘pretty’ for such a rough old character. I actually think he practices it. He’s very proud that people like his work, but he won’t admit it; he laughs it off, but I can tell. I check in on him from time to time. He seems to have 1 or 2 old gentleman friends with whom he drinks,smokes,& tells tales, but no family that I know of.
(Info above provided by Susan eBay ID: trailingverbena)
Photos courtesy of eBay ID: trailingverbena