In layers of rock laid down 540 million years ago, the fossil record shows ancient life forms that have no precedent in previous layers. This zone is known as the Cambrian Explosion. This period is extremely interesting because, for some reason, the diversity of life increased dramatically, creating most of the currently existing animal phyla. Previously, animal life on Earth consisted of single cells or simple colonies. Why the complexity of diversity took off is unknown. Not only are most of the current animal groups represented in the fossil record, but dozens of other groups are also found, groups that did not succeed in making it to modern times and many of these types are the weirdest of all. It is estimated that 90% of the life forms that appeared during the Cambrian Explosion did not survive into successive geologic periods. Imagine what the earth might look like today if all those different forms were represented. This piece may help with your imagination.
Fantasia depicts many of the life forms existing in the fossil record as well as other forms of varying levels of abstraction. Considering how strange many of the life forms were, it could well be possible that the abstract forms I created actually are similar to ones that existed millions of years before the dinosaurs. Further, some of the weird ones still exist today.
The myriad pieces are carved from elk, moose and deer antler and displayed in a semi-dioramic manner. There are also a few pieces carved from tagua nut, for color and texture.
42 cm W x 46 cm H x 16 cm D
16.5″ W x 18″ H x 10”D
Any cooked food can be served on this tray. Made from Manitoba Maple, it looks as good empty after your guests eat your offerings. Clean the food safe finish by wiping with a cloth (no soap) or rinse under hot water. If the wood starts to look dry, apply a thin coat of food-safe oil then wipe off excess with a paper towel.
44cm L x 33cm D x 40mm T
(17″L x 13″D x 1.5″T)
These wavy wall art pieces show that even a soft and not often used wood such as spruce can be very interesting. The texture makes you want to touch this piece. White Spruce is the official tree of Manitoba. The large one can be displayed either horizontally or vertically. The two small ones are of similar size–one horizontal and one vertical.
-large: 1.82M L x 52cm H x 40mm T (72″L x 20.5″H x 1.5″T))
-small horizontal/vertical: 91cm L/H x 60cm H/W x 40mmT (36″L x 24″H x 1.5″T)
“WE ALL BELIEVE IN HOME” references the hope and shelter that Habitat provides along with a sprinkling of why Manitoba is unique on a national and international scale.
41 layers of elm, ash, spruce and oak build upon each other, the shapes being abstracted beluga whale forms. The layers also recall the Tower of Hope in the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Canada’s only national museum outside of Ottawa. We follow the pattern as it rises, the journey is convoluted−like life.
Pieces of elk and deer antler arise from the cracks and gaps, seemingly in a random fashion. Only by standing back and looking at the whole piece do we see that there is a pattern to the antler pieces as they rise to the apex, as does hope.
Colors and thicknesses vary, textures modulate and shapes protrude. The 6 pieces of birchbark sewn together into a pair of wings symbolize the shelter we all seek−that place we call home.
Polar bear footprints and 10 abstract representations of beluga whales swimming through the waves at the mouth of the Churchill River remind us that our home is the only prairie province to have a saltwater coastline−a world capital for beluga whale and polar bear watchers.
Manitoba is in the middle of nowhere and the heart of everything−the place we call home.
WE ARE SO IMPRESSED BY HABITAT THAT WE DECIDED TO DONATE A HOUSEWARMING GIFT TO EACH OF THE 25 HOMEOWNERS OF HOUSES BEING BUILT IN MANITOBA. BELIEVING A PIECE IS INCOMPLETE UNLESS SHARED, EVERYONE IS VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS OPPORTUNITY.
For a short documentary about the piece in French:
This montage style piece explores the concept of the garden and orchard. We are led to believe that these are places of peace and tranquility. To reflect this, the piece contains representations of walnuts, almonds, acorns, pistachios, peanuts, Manitoba maple seeds, strawberries, peas, asparagus, green onions, carrots and soybeans as well as numerous leaves. However, as every biologist, gardener and tree grower knows, the natural world is a battleground between the plants and the things that want to eat the plants. To this end, if you look closely, you’ll notice a number of creepy crawlies nestled in among the plant matter. Some you’ll recognize, like the caterpillars, nut, worms and snail. Others are less known, like the almond beetle, the land scallop, the asparagus ant lion, a peanut caterpillar, the onion lasso worm and the rarely seen predatory parsnip.
This piece is made from many, many pieces of elk, moose and deer antler as well as a few tagua nuts. The walnut, one almond and the soybeans with snail are removable for handling. The realistic renderings are interspersed with abstract shapes reminiscent of plants or plant parts. The various pieces are displayed on a backdrop of carved moose antlers and mounted on a base of Manitoba Maple.
51 cm W x 38 cm H x 18 cm D
20″W x 15″H x 7″D
This box is made from a single piece of aged elk antler that has been sliced lengthwise, then hollowed out. The use of older elk antler allows for lines and cracks to show in the antler without reducing its strength and integrity. Because they come from a single piece, the top and bottom match so they fit together perfectly. The inside of the box is finished with beeswax giving it a honey-scented interior.
The exterior of the box is adorned with ivy vines and leaves. 31 leaves and numerous vines run the length of the top and along the front of the bottom. Vines from both halves overlap the other half disguising the separation of top and bottom. Care was taken to select antler of the same yellowish color for carving the leaves.
18cm W x 7cm D x 9cm H
7”W x 3”D x 3.5”H
I try to make most of my pieces as realistic as possible. Antler is ideal for this as it lends itself very well towards intricate detail. A few pieces have delved into the abstract realm and this is one of the most abstract that I have made.
Orchids, by their nature tend to have non-traditional flower shapes, so I decided to extend their unfamiliar shapes into more abstract ones to see where the forms ceased to resemble orchids. I used three orchid types–the traditional tube orchid, the Yellow Lady-Slipper and one called the Dragon’s Mouth. I started with realistic versions of each ( 3 tube orchids, 5 lady-slippers and 3 dragon mouths), then started playing with the shapes, getting more and more abstract until it ceased to be an orchid.
I also carved a bunch of leaves that were used to fill in the spaces and mounted the whole works onto a base of moose antler. Altogether, about 24 flowers are in the piece, but it depends on the viewer to decide how many of them are actually flowers and which are just shapes. The piece is very complicated, with leaves and petals hidden behind other leaves and petals, then roots and seed pods thrown in. What looks like an isolated leaf turns out to be a whole flower hiding in the shadows.
The multitude of shapes are carved from deer, moose and elk antler, as well as tagua nut. The shapes are mounted onto a moose antler platform, which is itself carved and shaped. The piece is displayed upon a poplar wood base.
24 cm L x 41 cm W x 36 cm H (9.5″L x 16.6″W x 14.5″H )
A trait that I have often used in my carving is the capture of movement. It is a difficult concept because, by its nature, if captured, the movement ceases. Consequently, I have to provide nuances and clues that direct the viewer to perceive movement where it doesn’t actually exist. One such clue is the use of curves.
This piece attempts to depict a beehive, but not in the traditional sense. It shows the movement of bees continually buzzing around a hive. Many of the trajectories intersect showing the interrelation of the sister bees in a hive.
The antithesis of relaxing, the movement is such that it should lead a viewer to think, “I know there is something I should be doing right now.”
The movement vectors are carved and hand polished from deer and elk antler. The support is chokecherry wood resting on a Manitoba Maple base.
41cm W x 29cm D x 61cm H
16″W x 11″D x 24″H
In one of our older posts (Interesting Stuff: Memories are made of this), we talked about turning items from your family into tangible memories. But not every family has art or jewels to pass down to the next generation.
In fact, for a lot of people who grew up on farms in the Canadian prairies, even the buildings have disappeared to make more acreage. Sometimes all that’s left are a few shrubs. Such was the case with our latest commission. On arriving at the homestead, all we had to choose from was some caraganas.
This lowly shrub is actually a legume, Caragana arborescens. Native to Siberia and parts of China, it was introduced to North America in the 1700s.
The uses are astounding: a food source, an emmenagog to prevent pregnancy, a cancer treatment, fiber to make rope, a source of blue dye, pet bedding and even oil for aromatherapy.
During the 1930s, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Act (PFRA) worked extensively with farmers on the Prairies to establish caragana shelterbelts to prevent wind erosion. Saskatchewan farms alone have an estimated 25,000 miles of mature caragana shelterbelt. Add Manitoba and Alberta into the equation, and you’ve got thousands more miles of the hardy shrub-like plant.
With this kind of heritage, I had to come up with something wonderful. Because of the small amount of raw material I settled on a toothpick holder and wind chime/mobile. The challenge was not only that I needed 7 wonderful things for 7 family members, but to create something that future generations would like to keep.
After cutting over 300 pieces, I was able to choose some pleasing designs to make these items.
The idea for a memory piece is to remind you of loved ones and good times and smells from your childhood.
Sometimes a piece as simple as a wind chime can be an unforgettable memory peg. To be a part of that for this family was a very enjoyable and satisfying commission.
Let us know if we can create a tangible memory peg for your family.
“—received the wind chimes and the toothpick holder today and am very touched by them, the thought of preserving something in the first place, then turning these thoughts into pieces of art. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
“—thank you so much for the imagination and the concrete time and skill you put into the caragana wind chimes and toothpick holder. That was such a lovely, lovely idea.”