Carving takes flight
Artists flock to whittle life into wooden birds in Irishtown
Sawdust floats to the ground as carvers perched around a table transform dead stumps of wood into intricate life-like ducks.
Clarence Gallant, a worldclass carver, instructs the members of the Prince County Woodcarvers Guild amid the gentle hum of sanding that echoes out the room and down the hall of the Irishtown Road location.
“We use (small) power tools instead of knives, and we do very intricate details,” explained Gallant, who completed his first wooden bird carving in 1989. “We are looking for complete realism of the bird,” he added.
With the precision of a surgeon’s hands, life is breathed into the stumps as fine feathers, tilt of a head, beak and eyes, take shape while using drawings with measurements as a guideline.
“Right now our club is concentrating on carving with detail,” said Gallant. “So every feather has all its quills and individual barbules carved into it. Habitat is another thing that is incorporated.” Brendon Campbell, now in his fifth year of carving with the Club that meets weekly on Wednesday evenings at East Prince Career and Technical Education Centre, showcased a completed grouse he whittled earlier in the year.
“It came in first place for its category in the Novice Carving Competition and Show in Stratford,” he said. Creatures carved in wood, intricately detailed, painted and polished, can take several months to complete. Many members of the club enter their pieces – based on their skill level – in either novice, intermediate, open or master categories in the competition. There are three competitions in the Maritimes – one in Stratford, and the others in Halifax and St. Andrews, N.B.
“We have to go for the realism to make sure the formation of the duck is very similar to what is out there in the wild because that’s the judging criteria,” added Gallant, who was giving constructive feedback to the 12 participants carving. On Sunday, Dec. 3, the Prince County Woodcarvers Guild will showcase their wooden creations at the Eptek Art and Culture Centre in Summerside. More than 80 pieces of carved wooden art will be on display for the official opening of the bird carvers’ exhibit at 2 p.m.
Clarence Gallant instructs Brian MacInnis on how to carve a wooden duck.