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A new Lumo home in a building with room for doing bark work

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When Raimo Mutanen retired a few years ago, he came up with a meaningful hobby. In his hands, bark began bending into amazing scale models. The new Lumo home and, more specifically, its club room offered a suitable nook for the making of bark art.

Raimo and Leena Mutanen lived in a detached house in Vaajakoski, Jyväskylä, for several decades. Moving into an apartment building became topical, when the youngest of the couple’s 11 children had reached adulthood and moved away from home.

The Mutanen couple found an apartment they liked in Keljo, a stone’s throw from the centre of Jyväskylä. The couple has already been blessed with 35 grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren as well. Therefore, the new apartment had to be spacious enough to provide a sufficient amount of room for the offspring to visit. Accordingly, the couple’s new Lumo home comprises four rooms in a newly completed house.

“We chose this area because it’s easy for my wife to go to work from here, and all the services we need are within a short walking distance. The area is also peaceful and close to nature,” Raimo explains.

Glazed balcony brings joy

The new home has been to the couple’s liking. The top-floor apartment is located at the end of a wing section of the building. It is as peaceful as a detached house.

“The apartment felt like home right away. We are particularly delighted about the glazed balcony. It’s also great that we have two toilets. We have reserved this one room for the grandchildren’s visits,” Raimo explains, while picking up soft toys from the floor and organising them on the sofa.

In addition to their own family, there have been other guests in the new Lumo home as well. Raimo and Leena Mutanen have acted as a host family for exchange students from Brazil, Chile, Italy, Belgium, Germany and Japan. Their present house guest Esmatullah is a refugee from Afghanistan, currently awaiting a decision on his residence permit.

“We have both learned things about one another’s cultures. I myself speak only Finnish, but we have managed well. We have been teaching Finnish vocabulary to Esmatullah by using Post-it notes. At times, our whole house has been filled with them,” Raimo says with a smile.

The Suomi ship is a complete scale model of the vessel sailing on the Jyväsjärvi and Päijänne lakes. It required 2,040 pieces of bark cut into lengths of less than four centimetres.
The Suomi ship is a complete scale model of the vessel sailing on the Jyväsjärvi and Päijänne lakes. It required 2,040 pieces of bark cut into lengths of less than four centimetres.

Raimo has won Finnish championship medals for his hobby

Raimo retired from the service of the city of Jyväskylä three years ago. His career as a property manager lasted almost four decades. During his working career, Raimo eagerly made development proposals for improving property management processes. He was also rewarded for many of his initiatives.

When he had left the challenges of salaried work behind him, Raimo wanted to develop something meaningful for himself to do. He has always been interested in doing things with his hands, drawing and painting, which is why the walls of the apartment are adorned by several portraits and landscapes made by Raimo. Now he selected working with bark as his new hobby.

“The first thing I made was this 1.25 metres long church boat that weighs half a kilo. It took 200 hours and 15 minutes to have it finished,” Raimo says after consulting his notebook entries.

Since then, he has made about two dozen other works, from the Suomi ship to a flying boat, and from a brim hat to a necktie. In most cases, the work is in one way or another linked to the element of water, because Raimo wants to enter his works in the Finnish bark boat championships held annually in Vääksy. In Vääksy, the boats compete over both appearance and floating.

Raimo has gained success in the artistic series of the Finnish championships. He has won three gold medals, one silver medal and one bronze medal. The medals won by Raimo now decorate the wall of the Mutanen family’s living room.

“Now I’m making a raft for this mini excavator so that I can enter it in the bark boat competition, presenting it as a dredger.”

The Lumo building's club room provided a suitable nook for working on bark.
The Lumo building’s club room provided a suitable nook for working on bark.

The new Lumo home made it possible to do bark work

Raimo Mutanen is not letting himself get off easy. He collects as high-quality bark as possible from the piles of pine logs he finds in the surrounding areas and makes all his creations using hardly anything other than hand tools. Each work requires large quantities of bark. For example, for the church boat that weighs half a kilo Raimo needed 10 kilos of bark.

Making miniatures requires a lot of manual dexterity. If you are all thumbs, it is impossible to work on the hydraulics of an excavator or the reel boat winch in miniature. Even when making larger surfaces, one cannot do a sloppy job, since any defects are easy to spot. It takes a lot of time, since you can only use pieces of bark that are only a few centimetres long. Larger pieces cannot be fastened sufficiently robustly with a glue gun.

“As material, bark is easy to work on because it has no wood grains. It’s a little bit like Balsa wood. Naturally, you need perseverance, and you must not suffer from lack of concentration,” Raimo points out.

A surgical knife, cutter scissors, a small handsaw, sandpaper, drill bits and a hot-melt glue gun are the most important tools when working with bark.
A surgical knife, cutter scissors, a small handsaw, sandpaper, drill bits and a hot-melt glue gun are the most important tools when working with bark.

Working on bark creates so much rubbish that Raimo has not wanted to engage on the activity in his new home. At first, he made his bark work in a caravan, but soon he found a suitable nook for his hobby in the housing company’s club room. A sturdy table with tools and materials is placed next to the fitness equipment intended for the shared use of the residents and the residents’ library maintained by Raimo.

“My wife knits socks at home, but I spend almost all the time I can spare here in the workshop. I use 100–150 hours each month on my bark work. Sometimes the time passes so that I even forget to eat. Fortunately, my wife doesn’t mind that. At least she has been advertising my works on Facebook,” Raimo says with a laugh.

Car project underway as well

Alongside his bark work, Mutanen also has another time-consuming hobby, a car project. He and his son are renovating a 1962 model Steyr Puch. They will fully refurbish the car for Raimo’s own use. The chassis parts will be replaced, the bodywork painted and the 20 hp engine will be replaced with a turbo-boosted 60 hp beast. It will give quite a boost for the vehicle weighing only 480 kilos.

“I used to have two similar cars when I was young. Steyr Puch is the only car I have ever fallen in love with. It will become a turbo-boosted racing car with seating for two. The only one of its kind in the world,” Raimo Mutanen enthuses with his eyes sparkling.

Raimo mainly works on the car project in his son’s garage, but some parts of the project have also been carried out in Raimo’s own parking space. Even now, there are car parts stored in the Mutanen family’s storage unit.

However, now it is time to stop our conversation. Raimo must hurry and continue his daily chores. He must finish the maintenance operations on the car in the daily use standing on the yard before it grows dark. Furthermore, he must not forget to place food for little birds at the foot of a spruce growing on the yard.

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