Turning a Block of Wood into an L.L.Bean Boot Trophy

Each year since 1989, L.L.Bean has honored a select few employees with the prestigious Bean’s Best Award. Employees from across the company are nominated by their peers and only the best rise to the top to win this coveted award.

To commemorate its 100th anniversary last year, L.L.Bean wanted to create a trophy that would serve to honor all the Bean’s Best award recipients over the years, similar to the Stanley Cup trophy concept.  Longtime L.L.Bean employee (and talented woodworker) Albert K. was tasked with creating a trophy worthy of the company’s highest form of recognition. This was a top-secret project with detailed planning and execution, and when the trophy was unveiled, employees were amazed by Albert’s transformation of a simple block of wood into this work of art.

L.L.Bean Boot Wooden Sculpture

It took Albert about 150 hours to transform a block of walnut into an awe-inspiring replica of an L.L.Bean Men’s size 12″ Maine Hunting Shoe. It sits atop a wooden support with the engraved names of Bean’s Best recipients from 1989 to 2012 and unlimited space to add the names of future winners.

Watch the video below to see Albert at work on the project.

Albert was raised in Northern Minnesota, and as a young boy, he would watch his father carve wooden spearing decoys used for ice fishing. He thought it looked like fun, so at just five years old, armed with a butter knife and balsa wood, Albert started carving his own creations.

“Unfortunately, my carving career was put on hold for a few months after my parents discovered that I found my Dad’s oil stone and used it to sharpen that butter knife to a nice edge!,” remembers Albert. But that didn’t stop him. “I enjoyed it so much – whenever I had free time, you’d find me carving something – small things at first, like birdhouses and paddles. Then as I got older, I designed and built an ice boat and a kayak.”

Albert continued to hone his carving and wood-turning skills over the years, and today he’s a seasoned artist, creating magnificent sculptures out of pieces of wood that he often finds when he’s out backpacking or exploring the outdoors.

Examples of Albert’s wooden sculptures

Examples of Albert’s wooden sculptures


L.L.Bean Chairman (and L.L.’s grandson) Leon Gorman with Albert and the completed trophy

L.L.Bean Chairman (and L.L.’s grandson) Leon Gorman with Albert and the completed trophy


L.L.Bean employees take a closer look at the trophy’s unveiling

L.L.Bean employees take a closer look at the trophy’s unveiling

“I get a lot of personal satisfaction from carving,” says Albert, “and creating this trophy was both exciting and challenging. When it was done, I felt really good. It was nice to see so many people interested in it – I’ve never had such a barrage of questions about my work!”

The L.L.Bean Boot trophy will soon be on display at the L.L.Bean flagship store in Freeport for everyone to enjoy. Please leave a comment below to congratulate Albert on a job well done.


Comments (18)

  1. David Eadie, Saint John NB | January 18, 2013 | 7:49 pm

    Congratulations Albert on a great art piece. You are a man of many talents. I look forward to seeing it on my next trip to Maine. Thank you LL Bean.

  2. Patricia Lojek | January 19, 2013 | 10:03 am

    Please post when it arrives for display in Freeport!

  3. Patty | January 19, 2013 | 10:48 am

    Spectacular work!Pa

  4. Mtn Spirit | January 19, 2013 | 11:26 am

    What a beautiful piece of art. Amazing job, Albert! I look forward to seeing it on our next trip to Freeport.

  5. Don from Downeast | January 19, 2013 | 11:37 am

    I’m looking forward to seeing this intricate piece of work the next time I’m in Freeport. Thank you and congrats to Albert K.!

  6. Leslie | January 19, 2013 | 5:31 pm

    Wow! As a previous recipient of Bean’s Best (1998) and having worked with Albert many years ago, this stunning piece of art brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart. L.L. Bean is an outstanding company to work for and Albert, a most humble man, is an exemplar of the wonderfully dedicated, creative, good to the bone employees who live the spirit of Bean every day. I believe, and lived it for 15 years, you will not find a better company to work for nor a better group of people to work with. Thank you, Albert and L.L. Bean. I cherish my memories of you all.

  7. Ingrid | January 19, 2013 | 8:11 pm

    Nice work! I’m looking forward to taking a closer look next time I’m in Freeport!

  8. Maay | January 20, 2013 | 3:11 pm

    What a work of art! I always marvel at someone who can envision how a piece is going to look before they begin and make it happen. Congratulations!

  9. Jack C. | January 20, 2013 | 9:02 pm

    Well done Albert. I envy your talent.

  10. Edna Geller | January 23, 2013 | 1:01 pm

    Such a neat ideal for an awesome L.L. Bean boot. Yes, it’s a work of art! Wood workers will be envy when they see this. Great job!

  11. Barb B. – from Pa | January 24, 2013 | 10:02 am

    Absoluting amazing … you have a wonderful gift!

  12. Josi | January 25, 2013 | 12:21 am

    Stunning. I don’t think anyone else could have made a wooden bean boot as perfect as you have. What a wonderful piece of art!

  13. Cathy Jacques | January 28, 2013 | 11:06 am

    Hi Albert,

    What a beautiful piece of art. Job well done!
    What a craftsmen!

    Cathy Jacques

  14. Alexandra R. | January 31, 2013 | 9:50 am

    Albert I too look forward to a time when I can travel to Freeport and see first hand your beautiful art work! As a 2012 Bean’s Best recipient, I agree with Leslie’s comment on January 19th
    ~”Wow! As a previous recipient of Bean’s Best (1998) this stunning piece of art brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my heart. L.L. Bean is an outstanding company to work for”.

  15. Jane | February 14, 2013 | 8:46 am

    What an incredible piece of art, amazing and yet if you are from New England, amusing at the same time. Who in New England is not very familiar with the LL Bean boot??? Love it. Wonderful piece of work Albert.

  16. Lee Anne | February 23, 2013 | 6:34 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to LL Bean & great talent you have Albert !

    Lee Anne

  17. Dameron MIdgett | April 2, 2014 | 8:10 pm

    Beautiful job of carving and nice choice of woods. The Stanley Cup of LL Bean! I look forward to seeing it the next time Im in Freeport.

    • Laurie | L.L.Bean | April 3, 2014 | 9:35 am

      Thanks Dameron. The trophy is currently on display in the L.L.Bean Hunting and Fishing store near the stone fireplace. Best, ^LB

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