“(We’re trying to) get a lot of the younger generation in, teaching them the craft of working with your hands, creating things, using your mind.” – Chris Dansereau, Woodturner’s Guild
This year’s Evergreen Artisan Market brought to light how many Prince Albert and area creators are inspired by the natural world.
The market—which is presented by the Prince Albert Council for the Arts—took place at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Friday and Saturday.
Over 40 vendors featured not just music, pottery, books, knitting and bath supplies, but also writing tools made of unique materials, woodworking and knives.
Writing with style
Stan Cameron of Studio Nine has been selling his handcrafted pens and pencils at the Evergreen Artisan Market for the past few years.
But these pens aren’t made out of the usual metal or plastic—Cameron crafts them out of wood and bullets.
It’s much more common now, but wasn’t as popular when he started woodworking about 20 years ago.
“All my life I’ve tried to play around with wood work and metal, and then I kind of retired in 2000 and I moved to the lake and I wasn’t exactly very busy,” he said with a laugh.
Cameron used to live in Shell Lake, but now resides in Prince Albert.
“They had an artisan’s group out there called the Thickwood Hills (Studio) Trail and they had a number of artists in the trail where people came and visited each artist’s place and so I started doing wood work,” he said.
He said he began with a scroll saw, a tool that allows you to make intricate designs.
Eventually he would move on to creating and selling pens and pencils, some with colourful designs using acrylics. This was after he brought the idea back from another artist in Arizona.
While Friday was a bit of a slow day at Cameron’s booth, Saturday’s sunny weather seemed to bring in more people.
“Today is a great day—lots of people, good weather. That’s why they’re all out.”
Keeping the woodworking tradition alive
When Chris Dansereau started woodworking over 30 years ago, he taught himself—other woodworkers seemed to be slightly secretive about their techniques.
That’s why Dansereau and other members of the Prince Albert Woodturner’s Guild are hoping to share their own to the next generation of woodworkers.
“A lot of the things we’re trying to do now with our club is get a lot of the younger generation in, teaching them the craft of working with your hands, creating things, using your mind to get them out from behind the TVs and video games,” he said.
“I started very young and I never had those opportunities. I had to learn the hard way whereas we’re trying to offer this for the kids so they don’t have to do it the hard way. They just jump in and we can teach them what we know.”
Dansereau is hoping to start offering classes in the new year.
Also representing the Woodturner’s Guild was Rodney Peterson, who began building his skills when he retired in 2007.
“It’s constantly evolving. I try to get ideas by going to symposiums, sometimes from the internet, sometimes just from looking at the piece of wood. But my wood turning has progressed from turning simple bowls to vases,” he explained.
Woodturning projects using green wood can take up to a year and a half.
Green wood is taken from a tree that was alive or recently alive. Since it’s wet and heavy, it easily warps.
“It’s not a case of ‘I like one more than the other,’ it’s the case of ‘they’re different and unique’ and that’s what art is all about.”
Peterson held up two bowls, one a true circular shape and another warped into an oval. He said you have to turn the wood, leave it for about a year, and then turn it again to its final form if you don’t want it to warp.
However, Peterson also likes the warped shape.
An art for outdoorsmen
After struggling to find good quality knives, an Emma Lake artist began making them himself.
Tom Laxdal of Laxdal Knives has been making the tools for about 25 years. The process is a time-consuming one, but worth it to help avid hunters and trappers like himself.
“I’m an ardent outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, and I could never buy a knife that I liked how sharp I could get it or how long it would stay sharp,” said Laxdal.
“You’re making something very usable that is practical, very high quality tool whether you’re a hunter and using your knife for field dressing animals or if you’re a trapper, using it for skinning your fur, if you’re a fisherman using it in your kitchen.”
Doing the leatherwork for the cases takes three hours alone. Making the knives themselves requires several steps, including cutting the steel, smoothing, tempering and putting on the handles.
“I’ll craft different lengths, sizes, shapes of knives because it’s human nature. People like different things. So I find for the consumer, you’re kind of looking for different and odd or unique-shaped knives,” he emphasized.
“I really enjoy the art of making knives—because it is an art.”