Crafty Cana­di­ans

From car­pen­try and wood­work­ing to paint­ing and in­tar­sia, this busy re­tiree does it all!

Our Canada - - Contents - by Sh­eryl Dyson,

As a young boy, our dad Al­lan Bryant moved out west from On­tario with his par­ents and three other sib­lings to farm in the com­mu­nity of Ret­law in south­ern Al­berta. Both dur­ing and fol­low­ing his school days, he held many jobs in­clud­ing de­liv­er­ing fuel and grain, driv­ing a school van and work­ing in a garage. When he even­tu­ally owned his own farm in Hays, Alta., he built a house for our fam­ily with the help of friends and rel­a­tives.

His tal­ent for car­pen­try con­tin­ued to serve him well over the years. He has helped peo­ple build garages, decks and fences, and even made a play­house for his grand­chil­dren in his back­yard in Leth­bridge, Alta. When asked how he got in­ter­ested in car­pen­try, he cred­its a cou­ple of peo­ple he refers to as “car­pen­ter men­tors” over the years.

Near­ing re­tire­ment from his job at the Pal­liser Dis­tillery in Leth­bridge, and want­ing to keep busy, he be­came in­ter­ested in more in­tri­cate wood­work­ing projects. These in­cluded wish­ing wells, wag­ons, carts, yard dec­o­ra­tions, a dog­house, many types of clocks and a va­ri­ety of bird houses for fam­ily and friends.

One favourite project was a tall, cor­ner-stack­ing bird house that con­sisted of ten smaller bird houses. He also made more in­tri­cate pieces such as Christ­mas tree or­na­ments and dec­o­ra­tions, trays, bowls, a Model A car and more.

Af­ter his re­tire­ment, Dad took wood­carv­ing lessons at the Leth­bridge se­nior cen­tre, where he made carv­ings of var­i­ous birds, bears, dogs, coy­otes and even peo­ple. He has won many awards at the Leth­bridge and District fair

for his work. Dad also won a few lo­cal awards for best dec­o­rated yard in his re­tire­ment vil­lage.

He sells his wood­work­ing projects ei­ther on con­sign­ment or at var­i­ous craft stores as well as at craft shows.

Fam­ily and friends as far away as Nor­way, Eng­land, Penn­syl­va­nia and Bri­tish Columbia have trav­elled home with pre­cious sou­venirs that they pur­chased or were given as gifts by Dad.

When he de­cided to ex­pand his in­ter­ests, Dad took lessons in pa­per tole art (a pa­per craft with a 3D ef­fect), as well as acrylic paint­ing— mostly scenery and flow­ers.

Tak­ing up wood burn­ing, he used sol­der­ing tools to dec­o­rate wooden ta­bles, saws, chairs and an­i­mal carv­ings.

Dad says of them all, his favourite craft is in­tar­sia. It’s a wood­work­ing tech­nique that uses var­ied shapes, sizes and types of wood fit­ted to­gether to cre­ate a mo­saic- like pic­ture with an il­lu­sion of depth. Dad learned how to do this craft by watch­ing his neigh­bour and then bor­row­ing his scroll saw. He en­joyed it so much that he even­tu­ally bought his own saw. His favourite in­tar­sia piece is one of a cow­boy, but he also en­joyed cre­at­ing an­i­mal pieces, which in­cluded birds, dogs and horses.

In 1997, in mem­ory of his par­ents, Dad do­nated his in­tar­sia of Je­sus called “The Last Sup­per” to the United Church of Canada in Vaux­hall, Alta. It was a beau­ti­ful work of artistry and his most com­pli­cated in­tar­sia project so far.

Dad is now 94 and still do­ing wood­work­ing and wood burn­ing, trav­el­ling by shut­tle to the car­pen­try shop at the Leth­bridge se­nior cen­tre to re­ceive or­ders to com­plete his projects.

Dad is proud that he has been able to make spe­cial pieces such as doll fur­ni­ture, small benches, sets of ta­ble and chairs, rock­ing chairs and es­pe­cially mo­tor­cy­cle rock­ers for his great-grand­chil­dren to trea­sure and pass down to their own chil­dren some day.

My sib­lings and I are so proud of our tal­ented and crafty dad, whose hob­bies have cer­tainly kept him busy, es­pe­cially dur­ing re­tire­ment. n

Of all his pur­suits, Al­lan’s favourite craft is in­tar­sia. One piece in par­tic­u­lar, which he is shown dis­play­ing at left, is spe­cial. He cre­ated this in­tar­sia of Je­sus, called “The Last Sup­per,” and do­nated it to the United Church of Canada in Vaux­hall, Alta., in mem­ory of his par­ents.

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