Thursday, February 24, 2011


One February 20, 2011, my wife and I went to the National Home Show that is hosted by Remax on the Toronto Exhibition grounds, National Home Show Website. We spent the entire day there looking at virtually everything there was to see. There were over 700 retailers and numerous seminars, demonstrations and exhibitions to see. I can honestly say that we left with a headful of ideas to consider and think about. Although we are almost finished renovating our home, there will always be new projects to consider and execute.

There were two model homes to review this year plus a 'Man Cave'. You never know exactly what to expect. Some years the model homes are over the top and have absolutely no resemblance to a home that any human being would call home. They are more or less an opportunity for designers to give vent to all of their design fantasies and their creative imagination. There are interesting to look at but usually I never go away with any practical ideas that I could use in out home.

This year was different. Both homes were very livable. Both my wife and I agreed that there were many ideas that we might be consider using in our home, either short-term or some time in the future. There were a lot of materials that were interesting that we never thought of before or we never thought of using in that way before. I am talking in generalities because if I start going into detail this post will become a short book instead of post.

I was interested in seeing the 'Man Cave' with all of the Neolithic connotations that it conjured up. I regret to saw that mostly the 'Man Cave' was a disappointment, at least for me. I guess every man has his own idea of what he would put in his 'Man Cave'. From what I saw, it was more like an overgrown playroom for men. Even the tools that they had were more of the casual, 'playful' variety instead of what I would consider serious tools and machines that should go into a 'Man Cave'. If I were to equip a 'Man Cave' I would divide it between my wood working equipment; table saw, bench drill, router, grinders, sanders, etc., my carving equipment, and all of my stained glass paraphernalia. It seems that my 'Man Cave' would be more of a studio than a cave. Maybe that is why I didn't find it to be that interesting.

I did see some wood related things that I took pictures of. One of the most interesting things that I saw were these small carvings of mountain climbers. What I found to be so interesting was the way that the carvings were exhibited. Because I forgot my camera at home you will have to bear with my photographic skills using my cell phone. The picture of the mountain climbers is a little blurry but after thinking about it the blurriness actually helps to portray the idea of motion.

I will have to incorporate this idea into some of the carving ideas that I have. I find this idea so entertaining that I might just carve my own climbers and pose them climbing up a wall.

Another picture that I took was of these ducks. The retailer was actually selling furniture that would go into a shower or sauna. My wife and I considered buying a bench for our shower until we realized that they wanted over $500.00 for the bench. I focused on the ducks instead and took a picture. One woman was so taken with the ducks that she bought two of them. They were considerably cheaper than the cedar bench.

You have to admit they are cute! Considering all the ducks that hang around Bayshore Woods I should carve a few ducks myself.

This next picture I took because I was just so impressed with the scale and sheer majesty of this carved eagle. It is part of the roof beam of the display log home at the show. The caption below reads, "The Finest Log Homes on Earth". The company is from British Columbia. I don't know if they are truly the finest log homes on earth but that eagle is certainly a fine specimen.

Lastly, I took this picture of an exhibit that was put together by a company that takes care of trees. They do pruning, tree surgery, tree removal, etc. A lot of what they had on exhibit was damage done to trees but not enough to kill the tree or stunt its growth. They had many, many examples of trees that grew around nails. spikes, splits, tears and other intrusions caused mainly by man. It is a statement and a testament to the robustness of trees. It is also a statement to the senseless brutality that we inflict on nature, usually for no good reason.
One of the exhibits was a cross-section of a tree stump. There was sign inviting everyone to guess how old the tree was. After a glance I guess that the tree was about 200 years old. After looking behind the question I saw that the tree was 169 years old. Since it was cut down in 1968 that would have have meant that the tree started growing before Canada was a country. It was stated that the tree was cut down simply because it was inconvenient. I know that trees have a finite life span, much as people do, but this one would have lived at least twice a long as it did before dying. We need to be better stewards of nature than we have been to this point. Nature may not need us but we certainly need them.

The National Home Show is still on until Febraury 27th. I would urge anyone who has any kind of interest in homes, renovating, design or furniture to go to the National Home Show.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. I want to write about a carving I did for my wife for Valentine's Day, a single Chines character. 

It is the Chinese character 'love' and I did it using the intaglio method of carving. The same methods I used for my first project '4' and '8' except that it was a Chinese character. I took the character from a set of Chinese characters that I have that are more artistic than the usual ones that are seen in a book or on a computer screen. I painted the character red because red is a happy color and I wanted the character to express joy and happiness.

I have a very old book that analyzes the origin of Chinese, their origin , etymology, history, classification and signification. The book is simply called Chinese Characters,  it was originally published in 1915 but it has not been published since 1965,  however, I did find it on Amazon.
I took a snapshot of the page that refers to the part of the character in the middle that is the radical. The radical gives the meaning of the word.

The radical 'xin' means heart and it used in Chinese characters that express feelings and emotions.

I did not mean for this post to be a lesson in Chinese etymology, far from it. I just wanted to show the carving that I did to express my own feelings of love for Valentine's Day.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!

Monday, February 7, 2011


This is a picture of my first carving; two numbers, '4' and '8'. They are both incised numbers, that is, the numbers were carved into the surface of the wood. For a long time I thought this first effort at woodcarving has been lost or thrown out. I stumbled across it a few weeks ago when I was looking for wood for a new project. That was much the same way that I was introduced to wood carving in the first place; I stumbled into it.

It was about ten years ago, give or take a few years, I went, with my wife, to the Burlington Art Center (BAC),, open house to look at various art exhibits at the center. we looked are weaving and painting and pottery and a lot of other things that I no longer remember. At one point, we took a few wrong turns and wound up in a part of the BAC that was not on our itinerary.

Since we were in a new part of the center we decided that we would look around. One of the doors was open so we went in. There were a number of people working a wood carving projects.  Fred Whiskin invited me to try my hand at wood carving. I said that I had no experience at it and I did not have any tools.
Fred made me an offer, he said that if I showed up at their next meeting on the following Tuesday he would provide the tools and materials for a first project. I agreed and left with my wife. I continued to think about it and told my wife that I thought I would give it a try.

The following Tuesday I showed up at the wood carvers meeting room. Fred was there and waiting. He presented me with the a square piece of wood that was covered with a self adhesive piece of plastic. On the plastic was traced the two letters that you see in the picture; '4' and '8'.

That first night, Fred gave me a small straight chisel that looks a lot like the chisels that I used for woodworking. After helping me secure the wood to the work bench and giving me a few tips on using the chisel Fred left me alone to work on the number 4. He came by during the evening a offered advice and encouragement. The evening went by quickly. I was hooked.

The following week I was back. I finished the number 4. Then Fred gave me a small round gouge to work on the number 8. that was a little more involved than the number 4 in that there were curves to negotiate. Over the nest few weeks Fred was very encouraging and helped me to successfully complete my first piece. I am glad that I still have it.

I do not know if Fred is still involved with the Burlington Sculpture and Wood carving guild. I did a search on the Internet and found that Fred had celebrated 50 years as a Boy Scout leader in December of 2010, He had spoken of scouting when he used to discuss wood carving with me. I give many thanks to Fred Whiskin for starting me on my path in wood carving. I owe it to him to keep going.

I have not been a member of the Burlington Sculpture and Wood Carvers Guild for several years. My schedule has not allowed the time. In fact, there have been too many years where I did not do much carving. Last year I injured my left hand and could not carve at all.  Not being able to carve at all made me realize how important it was to me to work with wood.

Before Christmas I decided that it was time to be more involved in wood carving again. Writing this blog has made me realize how important wood carving is in my life. It is how I express and interpret the world around me. By committing myself to write a post every week motivates me to work at wood carving every day.