Laura Wiens, The Triplicate

With all her can-do ability and knowledge of how to survive in the wilderness, Elizabeth Carter would be a good person to know when the apocalypse comes.

For now, you can get to know the Crescent City craftswoman through her creations, such as a handmade wooden bicycle on display at a local art gallery.

It weighs in at 19 pounds with a red oak frame. It took Carter 350 hours to make it, interpreting an 1898 Chillion model that was made out of hickory.

While it's currently hanging at the Gallery of Arts and

Culture at 175 H St. in downtown Crescent City, it's "meant to be ridden

and ridden hard," Carter says.

"It's exquisite; it really is art,

but highly functional," says Barbara Burke, owner and director of the

gallery. "It's beautiful. It's a real eye-catcher."

The museum

exhibit blends Carter's love of bicycling and craftsmanship. Both were

instilled in her by her father as she grew up in Alaska and Santa Rosa.

He started her biking to school and she got hooked on that mode of

transportation. More importantly, he taught her how to make things for

herself, something he'd learned from his own father.

"My Dad took

me under his wing and taught me everything he knew," said Carter, who

"borrowed" her grandfather's knife to carve a willow ptarmigan when she

was just 5. "Dad said it was very well-proportioned, but I got in

trouble for using Grandpa's knife. I didn't cut myself, which was


He taught her how to run a metal fabricating mill, and

to weld and rivet. He showed her "how not to just survive in the

wilderness, but to thrive." He also introduced her to mountaineering,

which became a life-long pursuit.

Later she learned about the

Scandinavian concept of "Saami Sloyd," which in Swedish means to craft

and make practical things. At that point, Carter writes in a brief

biography, "there was no turning back and it meshed so well" with what

her father taught her. "The Saami people are the indigenous native

reindeer herders of Sweden. Everything they make is of the forest andhellip; I

will practice and perfect Sloyd until the day I die."

Now 50,

Carter has spent her life making things: wooden cooking implements,

fishing rods and gear for mountaineering and other outdoor pursuits,

pressurized alcohol stoves and wood gas stoves, knives and axes crafted

from stone and bone, sleeping bags, tents and clothing. And bicycle


Which brings us back to her latest two-wheel creation. Its

features include a leather saddle "made by a little 95-year-old Italian

gentleman," lugs made from hemp fiber canvas set with a soy-based

marine resin like boat-builders use, and a cut-to-fit seat mast that is

not adjustable but which adds to "an extremely strong and explosively

fast bike frame."

"Two hundred years from now that bike will still be rideable," said Carter.

To learn more about her creations, check out Elizabeth Carter on Facebook.

Reach Laura Wiens at


The Gallery of Arts and Culture is now open seven days a week, 10 a.m.andndash;6 p.m. every day except Sunday, noonandndash;6.

The works of more than 40 local artists are currently on display.

A Chamber of Commerce mixer will be held there Thursday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., featuring live music and refreshments.