What-A-Relief Sculpted Murals
Sculpting Walls into...WOWS!

Sculpted Sled
Sculpted Heron
Sculpted Shadow Box
Sculpted Accent
About the Artist

Randy DetjenClasses, Video Now AvailableWhat-A-Relief was created in early 2004 and grew out of Randy Detjen's many years of woodcarving and love for nature. Textures and the effects of lighting on them is reflected in the detailed carvings he is known for. He has been fortunate to have won many awards and even a few "Best of Shows" for his wood sculpting abilities. In a way, wall sculpting, as he affectionately calls it, is the negative of woodcarving. . . instead of removing material leaving the texture he builds up the material to create texture and that third dimension. Over the years Randy has created wood sculptures in many sizes. Wall Sculpting allows him to do pieces much larger than reasonably possible in wood.

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Randy Detjen

How "What-A-Relief" was "born"

My sculpting career actually began in grade school and grew out of my love for fishing. As the middle child of five, our allowances weren’t very big. My younger brother and I loved to fish and were at the river almost continuously while we were growing up. We couldn’t afford to buy fancy fishing lures but found we could buy components like treble hooks and screw eyes much cheaper. I began carving and painting the plug bodies from scrap lumber my dad had left from his woodworking hobby.

As time went on I began carving other nature related things, mostly birds. I continued honing my carving skills thru high school, college, and into my new profession, engineering. For the next 35+ years I worked in a number of related capacities such as industrial engineering, manufacturing manager, and lean manufacturing coordinator. I found woodcarving to be very relaxing after a stress filled day at work. During that time I belonged to a woodcarving club called the Mid-Wisconsin Chippers which had a yearly show and carving competition. I participated and won many awards and was even fortunate enough to win “Best of Show” a few times.

After many years of working in engineering and manufacturing, an opportunity presented itself to pursue my passion for art. One evening, or should I say morning, I woke up at around 2:00 a.m. thinking about a show I had seen on TV 25-30 years ago. The program had an artist building a completely three-dimensional tree in a room using a wire mesh structure and covering it with plaster. He added plants and rocks to the base of the tree, all using the same process. I thought to myself, “How many people have room for something like that in their homes? I could add plaster directly to the wall and add that third dimension and create a whole scene." I called my sister, an interior designer, and asked her if she had ever seen anything like that in the high-end homes she encounters – she said she hadn’t, but it really sounded interesting. I made a few samples on panels in my basement and everyone I showed them to responded with, ”Where can I put one of those in my house?" Yesterday they didn’t know it existed and today they were looking for an application in their own home. “WHAT-A-RELIEF” was born.

During my many years of woodcarving, I found that the larger pieces always drew the attention at the shows I attended. Sculpting on walls allows me to do pieces much larger than reasonably possible in wood. Although some have been rather large, most have been in the three to four foot square size with some even being small accents over windows or doors. I am also continually asked to do pieces in local parade homes to give them that WOW factor – setting them off from the other homes.

I still do commissioned woodcarving but found my creative side is fulfilled with carving plaster and creating that special, one-of-a kind piece for my clients.

Classes/Hands-on Training (scroll down to "Classes" section)

Art is available for purchase:
  • An assortment of What-A-Relief Sculpted Murals are available for purchase.
    Please contact us.

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Revised: January, 2016.


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