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I turn into the driveway at the carved bear and eagle. The sole witness to my arrival is a massive stone face under a maple tree, a boulder hewn from the mountains beyond Hope. Where bald eagles and grizzlies hunt salmon on the carved cedar doorpost, a gnomish face in the handle keeps the gate to a kingdom of Middle Earth. This is a workshop whose creatures spring out of ancient logs and blocks of wood from old growth trees of the British Columbian forest. Here are spirit teachers released from their matrix, unseen until the carver's "optic heart" (Avison, "Snow," 1960) hones their shape and sound. Pete Ryan comes from the back room to greet me and show me around. “My first teacher was Don Colp, whom I met in the 70‘s while he was exhibiting his work in a mall, carving a bighorn sheep from a block of wood with a Frontier chainsaw.
Soon I was carving bears with an Husqvarna to promote their chainsaws at the dealers. A stump uprooted from the mountain in a great mudslide and washed down the flooding Coquihalla River has become a glass end table with a shelf. Disaster turns to art. Now squirrels cavort along the top, bright eyed and busy tailed. “Can you see the heron in the shelf? ” Pete tests me. I miss it, as do many. My eyes are open, but I see nothing until Pete points it out. The piece took over a year to complete. Wooden masks and faces line the gallery walls. Pete’s latest project, an eagle with pinions spread for flight, is drying for a few weeks. After careful inspection for hairline cracks that may appear as the wood dries naturally, Pete will finish it with varnish or oil, depending on whether the piece will go outdoors or indoors. The model for the eagle, borrowed from his taxidermist friend, spreads its wings in the back room.
A chain saw roughs out the shape of the sculpture as fragrant flying woodchips litter his workshop floor. 400 a metre. He then carves the details of beak, talon, feather, fur and scale with hand tools, like single and double-bladed knives or small chisels, or with small power tools, including a dremel and 1/2 inch belt sander. Occasionally he finishes a piece by airbrushing dark stain for the modelling and shadows. He carves house posts for huge upright beams in log cabin homes around the world, especially in the US and Japan. One client there ordered a custom carving for the finials of cross beams that support the beachfront cabin floor, dolphins arcing in still curves toward the Sea of Japan. Collaborating with various log home companies, he fulfills special commissions for clients who seek the unique signature his art brings to their homes and lodges. In his breaks he smokes a cigarette or plays his blue guitar and sings. A fiddle hangs on the wall of his office. Sometimes he plays it, too. Saturday nights you may find him down at Skinny's Grille, beneath his Hobbit Wall, jamming with the locals from Hope.
As well as carving signs and sculptures, Pete also restores antique furniture. He has plans for a gallery tour. If you have a gallery and want to exhibit Pete Ryan’s work, or want to commission a unique signature piece, contact him here. Avison, Margaret. "Snow." The Winter Sun . University of Toronto Press. Always Now (Always Now: Collected Poems)Margaret Avison's collected poems vol. Pete Ryan's workshop is 2 hours east of Vancouver near Exit 168 from the Trans Canada Highway on the way to Kamloops, Sun Peaks and Kelowna. Contact Pete Ryan here. 0 of 8192 characters usedPost CommentNo HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. I stop there, too, on the drive between Vancouver and Kamloops, where I live now. His property is for sale now. Always enjoyed this guy's work! Used to drive by here on the way home to Princeton, where I used to live. Since coming here this is my favorite hub. Went and found Pete on line and spent the next half hour or so admiring his work. BTW-Ya got my vote. Incredible work. Thanks for sharing. Congrats on the nomination and good luck. HI Janis, what a beautiful way of giving a review! I enjoyed your hub very much. Have you heard the good news? Your hub is a Hubnuggets nominee! I have seen these in person and am glad to see then shared on HubPages! Thank you, tenderheart. I am new to Hubs and your comments are encouraging. What an awesome hub! Well written, fabulous photos, inspiring art and artist!
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