How did it all start?
Growing up I spent a lot of time around tools; my father was a ‘fix everything’ kind of guy. I was always helping him and problem solving became a part of my life. My mother liked to draw. I believe I possess the qualities of both my parents.
I’ve always been extremely handy and resourceful when it comes to fixing broken things. My close friend Nicole would joke, “You can build a car out of a clothes hanger and a piece of gum!” I love to build things, and even more, I love to create beautiful art. I’ve spent many years drawing, painting, airbrushing, graphic designing, and decorating cakes. In creating my driftwood sculptures, I’ve finally found my niche. I love it! Designing and breathing life into my sculptures comes from my inherited qualities and all that I am.
Living near the Great Lakes of Ontario, I spend my entire summer at the beach. I love to explore the shores looking for shells, rocks and interesting pieces of wood. One day I found a crazy log washed up on the shore. I decided I had to have it for my garden. It was an entire tree laying half buried in the sand.
The next day my husband and I loaded a shovel and a chainsaw into the boat, and headed for the beach! It snowballed from there. I had to have matching driftwood numbers for the outside of the house, and more stumps for the front garden. I started making decorations from the mounds of driftwood I was collecting. Larger and larger, until I decided I needed an even bigger challenge. I wanted a life size horse on the front lawn! Today that horse, “Gilded Ticket” stands proud and gallant in his original spot; he’s never moved.
How would you describe your style?
It’s my style to try to capture the true essence of animals and creatures. Sometimes I embellish my pieces with shells, feathers or other treasures, adding an unique contemporary twist. My sculptures are constructed with a wide variety of driftwood types. Those types are, red pine, hemlock, cedar, tamarack, white pine, white spruce, ash, basswood, beach, black cherry, black walnut, hickory, maple, and birch. Each piece of wood has been weathered by the waves and sand of Lake Ontario and Lake Erie; located in Southern Ontario, Canada. I believe this fresh water driftwood has beautiful markings and each piece tells a story. I love to incorporate all the different varieties of wood with all their diverse colors and textures. This wide range makes for some stunning photos. 99 percent of the time I’ll use the wood exactly how I find it. With a bit of bark, a small burn, each piece unique and untouched.
Each sculpture starts with an armature. Depending on the type and size of the work, metal, or just a wood frame is built. Then the creative process begins, layering and adding driftwood to the piece. It quickly comes to life! The energy soon becomes apparent; the intensity of a lion, the animation of a monkey, the spirit of a horse, all starts to flow out of the piece. I may select areas to burn, adding flecks to the eyes, or special markings to the face. Each piece is then named, signed, and dated. And, as if by magic, the sculpture is perfected and ready for your love and adornment.
What is your process like?
The process, however, may just seem that simple but it does have some major challenges. I struggle each day to find new ways to fasten the wood together. Deck screws are my fastener of choice. But they are noticeable within the sculptures. I’m always trying to think of ways to conceal them, to give the sculpture a finished look. Smaller details require glue. It’s almost impossible to find the perfect glue; with strength and longevity, that’s waterproof and compatible with wood, also many types discolour and yellow over time.
What are some challenges that you have faced?
Another major obstacle I face is that driftwood is very fragile and unstable, along with being very heavy. The wood cracks, shifts, shrinks expands, and twists, and the screws loosen over time. My sculptures need to “set” over a period of time so that I may revisit and tighten different areas.
My journey of building these sculptures has been fairly new. In just over a year I have built up a sizeable inventory, done some commissions, and won a few awards. I’m hoping that someday I may do my art full time, as this would fulfill all my career dreams!
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