Learning wood carving in good company

It’s a popular Manitoba pastime, tailor-made for seniors – with skilled craftsmen standing by to teach it.

By Ted Muir

For some folks the onset of retirement is a huge challenge. If you are one of the many individuals who is struggling with the transition to the next phase of your life—which with some luck will be a long one—you should seriously consider taking up wood carving. It’s a hobby that has a robust following in Manitoba, with some 23 clubs, a bevy of top notch instructors and two highly recognized annual carving competitions.

Wood carving is like anything new that you start or get back to: it’s always better to learn from the mistakes of others and avoid making them yourself. In short. take a workshop, join a carving club or visit a carving competition to see what others have accomplished.

The Prairie Canada Carvers’ Association is offering eight great wood carving workshops in Winnipeg alone in the next three months. These are modestly priced events and you end up with your very own piece of art. It could be a stylized rusty nail shorebird, a hummingbird, a fish, an antique decoy or a miniature bison head. The Wood carving 101 workshop offered the evening of Monday, Feb. 11 is a wonderful introduction to power carving, with one on one instruction, and you get to carve your own butternut fridge magnet.

If you are seeking a social bent to wood carving, you would do well to join one of the eight Winnipeg or 15 beyond-Winnipeg wood carving clubs in the province. Clubs meet regularly through the winter, often once a week, to hone carving skills and enjoy the company of fellow carvers. Most folks carve in wood, but many also work in bone, stone and antler. A list of Manitoba carving clubs, instructors and courses can be found on the Prairie Canada website (see below).

If you would like to see some of the best carvings in the county you will want to attend the 27th annual Prairie Canada carving championship being held at Canad Inns Polo Park on April 7. The public is invited to attend the show that day and view the 300-plus carvings (by 100 carvers) on display and speak to the various club members who will be demonstrating carving. The first day of the show, Saturday, April 6, is the actual competition where groups of judges award ribbons to pieces of wood, bone, stone and antler, based on their artistic merit.

The Prairie Canada championship is one of he longest running and biggest carving competitions in North America. Admission is $5 for adults. Information on the competition can be obtained from the association’s website.

Prairie Canada carving winter workshops

Schedule: days, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for Feb. 11 evening workshop.
Location\: Elmwood/East Kildonan Active Living Centre, 180 Poplar Ave.
Feb. 3: Carve a butternut hummingbird mounted in a picture frame — cost $55
Feb. 10: Power carve a stylized rusty nail shorebird, cost $55.
Feb. 11(evening): Power carving 101. Learn the basics of power carving and make a butternut shorebird fridge magnet. Cost $20.
Feb. 24: Rusty nail egret. Carve a miniature butternut snowy egret. Cost $45.
March 10:. Carve a life-sized natural (antique) finish diving duck. Cost $55.
April 20 and 21: Carve and paint a life-sized crappie (fish). Cost $65.
April 28: Carve a miniature Manitoba bison head out of driftwood or bark. Cost, $50.
2013 Competition seminar at Artists’ Emporium art store, 1610 St.James Street:
April 5: Sculpting in clay techniques with Peter Sawatzky of Glenboro. Cost $75.

For more details about workshops contact Ted Muir at tedmuir@shaw.ca or call 204-237-1385, or visit the carvers association website at http://www.prairiecanadacarvers.com.

Ted Muir is one of the founders of the Prairie Canada Carvers’ Association and has served on its board for 27 years. He specializes in making rusty nail shorebirds (a bird of his own design with an antique square nail as its beak) and has donated scores of carvings to various Manitoba conservation organizations for fund-raising dinners.

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