Islanders carve up a pile of products

  • Apr. 10, 2007 8:00 a.m.

By Evelyn von Almassy-Salmon boxes by Elin Price, gift boxes for wine by Charley Robertson, a coffee table and boxes by Ronda Bell, little houses by John Broadhead and clocks by Roly Thompson. A burl clock and round bowl by Ryan Stevenson, who has just turned 15 and never done woodwork before. These are some of the diverse offerings that are part of the Haida Gwaii by Design show, on display until April 22 at On the Rock in Queen Charlotte.
I attended the opening and interviewed some of the participants that evening. Roly Thompson, the organizer of the course and the show, said the course included a slide show and discussion of design history, from the Parthenon to the present of Frank Gehry, all in one evening! The three-hour classes were held twice each week, beginning Sept. 8 and ending March 15. The classes alternated between Masset and Charlotte and there were eight men and two women in the class. Peter Galonski, from the Kootenay School of the Arts, was here from time to time to instruct, with Mr. Thompson teaching the other times.
Mr. Thompson said he saw a need to keep the wood that was milled on island here, and also to keep the value-added income on island. He knew that talent and a resource existed here and was determined to change the status quo. He lobbied for funding to make the dream a reality (Community Futures, the school district and SMFRA helped with in-kind resources and funding) and he organized the show.
Charley Robertson said he has a fascination with trees, and “wanted to learn the basics of woodworkingÂ… and see the side of marketing. ” He learned patience and perseverance. When I asked how he would use his knowledge now, he said that he wanted to make a Sitka spruce guitar.
Elin Price has lived on Haida Gwaii for two years and lives on a cabin on North Beach. She said she used her vehicle to dry her boxes as she had no working space at home. She wanted to gain more wood working skills and to design furniture for her Airstream, which has lots of round areas. She definitely learned to work within a small space.
Students learned woodworking skills, design planning, familiarity with tools, and went on a tour of the Abfam mill in Port Clements. Mr. Thompson saw the increasing confidence and growing skill of the individuals and knew that his dream was coming to fruition.
All these people want to make products with on-island resources, and to sell locally and to also ship their goods overseas. They want control of the manufacture, resources and infrastructure of the design and the sale of the goods that they create. In looking at their products, one can see that beauty and function have come together in their craft.
Mr. Thompson is hoping to run the course again, and the idea is percolating of a co-operative workshop somewhere. All of the participants are looking forward to continuing to use their talents. Catch the show before it comes down. Haida Gwaii by Design is a project that will be heard from again.

Just Posted

Masset fishing derby proves to be a catch

All ages participated in the competition to bring in the top salmon and halibut hauls

Yarn Bombing mastermind is back in town

Big Canada Day longweekend in the works

Maritime Museum project receives legacy grant

A special project of the Dixon Entrance Maritime Museum Society has been… Continue reading

Richardson Ranch celebrating 100 years of family and ranching in Haida Gwaii

Tlell Polled Hereford’s continue to win awards while the ranch becomes a popular spot for visitors

Sustainble economy flourishing in Haida Gwaii and Great Bear Rainforest thanks to First Nations investments

From 2008-2018, funding initiatives led to more than $286 million in new investments

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

UPDATE: Two-year-old involved in Chilliwack pool drowning has died

Toddler was reported to not be breathing as air ambulance called out Thursday afternoon

Family frustrated Terrace dad with advanced cancer must wait weeks for treatment

‘We can see his health declining every day,’ daughter says

Most Read