Our new name is what we do

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Our new name – Whistler Woodcraft – reflects our focus on the craft of working with wood.

When I started this business, I wanted a name that reflected the wide range of genres in which I worked. As my wife will attest, I have a touch of ADHD, which is reflected in the many media in which I create using a combination of artistic flair and technical expertise.

I started early in life as a photographer, where I developed my eye for composition and deep technical knowledge of the technology of cameras and the chemistry of printing.

Later I started working with wood, designing and creating furniture for our house. My career has been in the dynamic business of high tech, and every time I changed jobs I channeled my stress into a new piece of furniture.

I then became interested in stained glass, and once again designed and created a wide range of pieces for our house and as gifts.

I probably would have gotten into fused glass and pottery as well if I could have afforded the kilns.

When I decided to evolve from a hobbyist to a craftsperson, I focused on what I did – which is pretty much anything that caught my interest – and Whistler Fine Arts was born. I quickly learned that both photography and stained glass are not very profitable.

Modern cameras and smart phones are so capable that pretty much anyone can take a good picture now. Very few people are willing to pay for a photograph.

Stained glass is so time-consuming that few people are willing to pay what it really costs to produce a Tiffany-style glass panel. By the time I add up my material costs and the number of hours in a piece, I barely make minimum wage at the price at which people are willing to pay.

Cheap foreign knock-offs have also flooded the craft market and driven price expectations into the ground.

But hand-made wood pieces are still appreciated by some, especially when they are built from unique wood sourced locally. So we are going to focus on wood for the next while, and I wanted our name to reflect that.

My medium is wood and my differentiating factor is my craft, so “Whistler Woodcraft” was born.

Join me in my journey as I explore unique sources of wood and build interesting, beautiful and functional items for your home.

Wally.

Nothing like a deadline to focus your efforts …

It’s all too easy to putter around the shop, trying this and testing that, and generally wasting a lot of time.  Sign up for a show, however, and the approaching deadline motivates you to get things done.

On Saturday, June 13th from 11 am to 6 pm, we’re going to be at the Toronto Art Crawl in Liberty Village.  I’m pretty impressed with the organizers who are promoting the event and have scored a major sponsor with Varekai, Cirque du Soleil.

The issue is that I have sold out a few key products, and I have had a few more “cooking” in the kiln, so it’s suddenly time to get cracking!

A while back I scored a few barrels and a pile of interesting wood and had all sorts of ideas dancing around my head.  Now I need to get the tools out, fire up the old creativity, and start making stuff.

The first batch of wood has exited the kiln and is dry enough to work. A few pieces “exploded” in the kiln – heavily twisted wood is the most visually interesting, but it also has a bad habit of cracking when drying because of the tension in the wood fibres.  I managed to salvage most of it and I am busy making one-of-a-kind candles.

One of the barrels had a surprise inside (no, not wine!). The inside surface of the barrel, rather than the smooth curved surface you normally see, was heavily grooved.  I found out this was an experiment by the winemaker who wanted a barrel with an “extra heavy toast” for a robust red wine he was working on.  “Toast” is the charring  on the inside of the barrel created when the cooper “fires” the barrel and turns the inside surface from nice clear oak into oak charcoal.  This charcoal adds extra character to the wine aging inside the barrel.

The theory was that if you rout a series of grooves on the inside surface of the barrel before firing it, you get more surface area for the wine to meet.  In theory this should should magnify the effect, but I learned from the winemaker that it didn’t really work and they will no longer use that type of barrel.

Interesting lesson, but it means that I have a few dozen staves that I cannot easily work into the products that I usually make.  I don’t really mind because I have some ideas for really unique products that will be enhanced by these unusual barrel staves.

All I have to do is get back into the shop and get to work.

We will also be at the Entertainment District Art Crawls on Friday, July 10th and Friday, August 14th at David Pecaut Square.

Damn. I better get to work …

Wally.

Introducing Wally 2.0

There is an old saying that goes “if you are doing what you love it’s not really a job.”

After 30 years in technology, I have decided to pursue my alter ego and have launched Whistler Fine Arts to showcase my inner artisan.

Very few people know that while I was busy dealing with the chaos and uncertainty of high tech, I was also honing my skills in a variety of crafts.

My work/life balance was usually heavily weighted towards work. The exception was when my job disappeared, which was an all to common occurrence. My plan for dealing with the stress and uncertainly of unemployment was to immerse myself in a new project. My house is now littered with custom furniture and stained glass, each of them linked to a specific life event. Each project got bigger, more elaborate and more challenging.

Yes, I have a habit of changing jobs too often.

I finally decided to flip my world around and pursue my craft while working part-time in technology.

Even now, however, I cannot help but look a the opportunities to link the worlds of e-commerce and art. www.whistlerfinearts.com is an opportunity to both launch a new career and to learn a whole new technology.

Who knows, I might be able to build this into a whole new start-up…

Wally.

Welcome to Whistler Woodcraft