This is a short film I just completed for EartHand Gleaner’s Society.
In preparation for Vancouver’s 2016 EASTSIDE CULTURE CRAWL, I have been carving on a daily basis, mostly concentrated on larger serving spoons made of locally sourced Cherrywood. All have been finished with a coating of Bee’s wax, Carnuba, and Mineral oil.
The Storyhive Short Film Competition is in its final week. Thirty winners are given 10,000 dollars to complete their films. Please support my project “Mr Fire-man Builds a Horn Orchestra out of Wood.” You can vote once a day for the next week at: http://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/907
Synopsis: David Gowman, aka Mr Fire-man, is the creator of “The Legion of Flying Monkeys Horn Orchestra.” Equal parts arborist, musician, craftsman, and agent-provocateur, his songs mirthfully take the piss out of consumerism, conformity and religion with hits like Aliens, Too Much Pie, and Zombies, played in clubs, festivals and community gardens of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. He sustainably harvests a local Paulownia tree and other renewable crops to build his eccentric instruments. With his artwork, concerts and workshops, he activates both friends and community in ways that are thoughtful, provocative, and life-affirming. This is a story of one man who has turned away from mass-culture and consumption, and has built his own life in a sustainable way, enriching the local environment around him.
Vote for my film-pitch at http://www.storyhive.com/project/show/id/907
Between October 26 and November 8, 2015, you can vote once everyday to give me a chance to win 10,000 dollars to make this film.
As my interest in carving has grown, so has my understanding of the tools required. Different tools are needed for the various stages in carving, starting with saws for obtaining wood from fallen trees, wedges and froe for splitting it into workable sections, and finally, axes, gouges and knives for shaping the individual piece.
I’ve been borrowing some of the more specialized tools from David on our carving nights, and have also been assembling a set of my own. I had a stroke of luck recently in finding a carving hand axe at a local flea market for 15 dollars. With some concerted effort, I was able to resharpen the damaged edge and give it a new handle. It is on the heavy side, but having a single beveled, right handed blade has made a great difference in the initial shaping of wood before switching to the knife.
I’ve also bought some Haida designed hook-knife blades from the local Lee Valley store. They are sold without handles, so I now have them mounted on pieces of maple I had left over from another project. These have proved indispensable in all of the recent carving I’ve been doing. Having the three different profiles has made hollowing out both spoons and bowls much easier. They require some serious sharpening at the beginning, so patience is necessary.
I also made my own adze with Lorne Grey when we were doing some blacksmithing earlier this year, but have only recently given it a handle made from dogwood. My first attempt failed as I had chosen a branch configuration with too acute an angle, making it almost impossible to swing. That (boxwood) handle was replaced and recycled into a handle for the hook knife I also made with Lorne. The adze in particular has been brilliant in working on a larger sized bowl I’m making from alder.
I just finished my first bowl today carved from a chunk of plum-wood. I based it on the shape and style of a rice bowl.
A lot more work is involved in carving a bowl as compared with a spoon. I’m learning to do a knife finish instead of sanding, which for me has been a bit of a struggle so far. I do prefer the results, especially as it cuts down the dust levels in my shop, and really shows the beauty of the wood.
I’m finishing a larger oval-shaped bowl from the same piece of wood and have started another with some freshly cut alder. Both are smallish, but I have plans for a large, group project with a huge section of alder I now have in my front yard.
“Joined by Thread” is a ten minute film that follows a group of women who work together to create a wedding dress from two older dresses. Ashleigh, the bride to be, her mother Lynda and her future mother-in-law Rose, meet with environmental artist Sharon Kallis, who helps them to see the beauty in reclaimed fabric, the history imbedded in our clothing, and to avoid the crass and wasteful “Wedding Industry” that promotes an unsustainable, consumer lifestyle.
Rose Burden, Ashleigh Wallace, Lynda Wallace, Willow Spindler
I was fortunate to have another opportunity to work with my friend and frequent collaborator Sharon Kallis, in a realm I had little knowledge of: weddings, and in particular, the wedding dress. In much of contemporary western culture, the wedding ritual has become commercialized to the point that meaning has been stripped away from many of the most beautiful moments and replaced with a pumped-up orgy of expense, competition, and waste. In this case, the humble act of sewing and the sharing of family history through fabric reveals a richness that has no price tag.
Ashleigh Wallace and Sharon Kallis
It was a challenge and an invaluable learning experience to shoot solo in a very confined space where events unfolded quickly and unexpectedly. I am in debt to all of the participants who were so generous and open in sharing a very intimate and emotional moment on camera.