Tag Archives: Ontario Wood Carvers Association

Did you guess it?

Long overdue for an update about my contribution to the Maple Leaf Forever Tree at the Ontario Science Centre. It’s almost done — just a few tweaks to go and some tidying up. Just in time, too: all carving must be done by the end of May in order to finish the tree for Canada Day.

My leaf, almost done. Maple Leaf Forever Tree, April 30, 2017.

My leaf, almost done. Maple Leaf Forever Tree, April 30, 2017.



Comfort Birds

I carved a couple of these last weekend, while staffing the Ontario Wood Carvers Association’s display table at the Leslieville Tree Festival in Toronto.

comfort bird

comfort bird

Pennsylvania carver Frank Foust is credited with creating the original comfort bird in 1982. According to this article (with pattern!) from Woodcarving Illustrated in 2011, comfort birds “are often given to those in need, such as the ill, blind, homeless, or elderly, or people in disaster areas … as a token of support and an act of kindness.”

More broadly, they make great stress toys. The rounded shape fits naturally in the hand, and the smooth finish invites stroking.

The pattern I followed is slightly different from the one in Woodcarving Illustrated — and the instructions there are for power carving, whereas I whittled my little guys with hand tools — but key to the success of any comfort bird is the sanding and finishing. Their tactile appeal comes from an absolutely glasslike finish. I sanded through the grits to 320, then buffed my birds with a sanding pad followed by brown paper. I finished with Danish oil, top coated with wax, though polyurethane would work well too.

Spoons. Shows. Spoons at shows.

It’s been far too long since my last post, so here’s a picture of a calla lily spoon I finally got around to finishing last week.

Calla lily spoon

Calla lily spoon

The blank for this was cut by Bill Myette. Bill’s an executive member of the Ontario Wood Carvers Association (shown here working on the Maple Leaf Forever Tree at the Ontario Science Centre).

Bill Myette at the Ontario Science Centre

Bill Myette at the Ontario Science Centre

Alongside his larger projects Bill’s an outstanding spoon carver. He’s led spoon carving workshops at the Toronto Tool Library, and you can also find him at many Ontario carving club shows, where he staffs the OWCA booth and sells finished spoons and project blanks. The next of these shows will be the Hamilton Woodworking Show, February 27 and 28 at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum. Hope to see you there!

Magic In Wood – Ontario Wood Carvers Association Competition & Show

magic in wood logo  The Ontario Wood Carvers Association’s 35th annual competition and show will be on at the Pickering Recreation Complex October 18-19, 2014.

The competition awards prizes at the youth, novice, intermediate and open levels. Special awards — Originality/Creativity, President’s Choice and Carvers’ Choice — bring the total prize value at the event to more than $5,000.

Along with the competition, the show will spotlight the work of a master carver. This year’s featured carver will be Tony Endhoven.

Magic in Wood attracts exhibitors and vendors from across the province. People who have never carved before can try their hand at “You Can Carve”, where they can create a plaque under the watchful eye of a carving instructor. More experienced carvers can attend hands-on workshops, including caricature, relief, architectural and tool sharpening sessions.

Carvers who want to take part in this year’s competition can submit their entry form online or download and print the form at the association’s website: www.ontariowoodcarvers.com/

Magic In Wood: 35th Annual Competition & Show
October 18-19, 11 am – 4:00 pm
Free admission and free parking

Pickering Recreation Complex
1867 Valley Farm Road
Pickering, ON L1V 3Y7




Carving the “Maple Leaf Forever” Tree

On July 19th, 2013, a severe storm downed a 170-year-old silver maple tree in front of 62 Laing Street in Toronto. This tree is said to have inspired the song The Maple Leaf Forever, written by Alexander Muir in 1867.

The Maple Leaf Forever tree

At one time, The Maple Leaf Forever was Canada’s unofficial national anthem. Today it is still the regimental march of the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada and the Royal Westminster Regiment.

Given the historic significance of the tree, many groups and individuals approached the city with proposals for using the wood. The Ontario Wood Carvers Association was among these, and eventually was given a section of the tree’s main trunk about seven feet long.

Working around creative challenges including holes, insect damage and wood that in parts is less than one-inch thick, project artistic director Neil Cox developed a design that features 35 maple leaves, each containing a relief carving of an important person, place or event in Toronto’s history. Historians from Archeological Services Inc. and Heritage Toronto chose the subjects.

Carving the Maple Leaf Forever Tree

Carving the Maple Leaf Forever tree

Alexander Muir

Alexander Muir, writer of The Maple Leaf Forever

The trunk was debarked, cleaned up, then moved to space inside the Ontario Science Centre. Carving officially began on Canada Day, July 1st, 2014 and will take about a year (roughly 4,000 carver hours) to complete. Visitors to the Science Centre can see the work in progress, and come back to see the finished sculpture when it goes on permanent display in 2015.