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Shuswap School of Carving and Arts – Wrap-up

shuswap school carving michael binkley sculptor in stone

Last week, I led a workshop on carving limestone at the Sorrento Centre, in the Shuswap region of BC.

The annual event is hosted by the Shuswap School of Carving and Arts, which is a group of wood carvers that get together from across Western Canada to learn tricks and techniques from skilled artisans. There was a workshop on wood carving and painting a Stellar’s jay, a pair of orca whales and a blue jay. Also available was a workshop on carving a small cedar totem, a cedar mask and even building a working violin!

Over the years, there have been requests for a workshop on stone carving. My friend, Betty Sager led a workshop on carving soapstone and alabaster in 2010 and 2011. The SSCA asked if I would come and lead a workshop this year, so I chose to do one involving limestone.

I chose a variety of limestone that is quarried in Indiana, USA and is used extensively for architectural purposes. It is also a wonderful medium for carving, as it is soft enough to quickly realize a sculpture, even for a novice and can stand the test of time, even outdoors. As some of my students had already worked in soapstone, this proved to be a logical next step in working a harder stone.

I had seven people in my class, and all were eager and willing to work hard and get dusty. As with all of my workshops in the past, this group did not want to dawdle learning hard tool carving, rather they wanted to learn about power tools to carve faster. I brought as much of my portable tools as I could, so they were able to experiment with diamond bladed angle grinders and pneumatic chisels.

I never get tired of seeing a carver’s eyes light up after a few hits with an air chisel, and seeing them smile right through their respirator. These folks did just that.

Instead of supplying a “kit project”, I wanted to encourage creativity and let my participants carve what they wanted. After only 5 days of work, each had roughed out their project, and two even finished a piece. There were two diving otters, a moose, a pure abstract, a barn owl, charming faces on balls and a bear with two cubs.

Everyone was very happy with the workshop and each are already looking forward to next year.

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