Wonderful Wednesday wood carving

The Geriatric Carvers have fun while creating impressive wood artwork

RICHARD MACKENZIE TRURO NEWS richard.mackenzie @saltwire.com



SaltWire Network



TRURO - Being mostly retired teachers, organizer Gerry Hale said they wouldn’t think of teasing each other as they work on their wood carving projects. The well-timed quip prompted laughter from the group with one member adding, “just constructive criticism.” More laughter ensued. On Wednesday mornings, at the Town of Truro’s Douglas Street Recreation Centre, a group of 15 meet to do wood carving projects and enjoy each other’s company, as the fun exchange would suggest. The Geriatric Carvers, as they like to call themselves, started out about four years ago when Hale made an application on behalf of the local Retired Teachers Association for a branch initiative called Wood Carving – A Wellness Activity. “We’re pretty well maxed out as 15,” Hale added, noting the room they have at the recreation centre “is a great facility” and something the town “should be proud of.” Hale provides the patterns and the wood to be fashioned into birds, fish or whatever other creatures or objects the projects call for, which have become a little more involved as the wood carvers, mostly with no to little experience coming in, have increased their skills. “We started just doing some little things but now they’re a little more complicated,” said Fraser Nicholson who wasn’t an original member but joined soon after the group was up and going. He said the woodworking is a great release. “It’s something I normally don't do; I'm more of a gardener,” he said. “So this is just a little release. I can go down the basement and do whatever I want … work away at it. I'm not bothering my wife. I do bother her to help with the painting, but the carving is kind of a nice little release from everyday troubles or whatever … it gets your mind off things.” Nicholson said he very much looks forward to the Wednesday gatherings with the group to work on their projects together. “It’s a good crew … great fun,” Nicholson, originally from Glace Bay but in the Truro area since his late teens, said. Cathy Olson and Ruth Pfister echoed Nicholson’s thoughts on the enjoyment of the group and activity. “Gerry offered this to teachers from the Retired Teachers Association and I remember I called him up and said, ‘yes I would be interested in it,’” Olson said. He asked, ‘have you ever done any woodworking?’ I said, ‘no’ and then he asked why I think I might like it. I just love the texture of wood. So, now, I have made several projects I’m pretty proud of.” Pfister was in the same kind of mindset – no experience with woodworking but always appreciated wood products. “I just find it relaxing,” she said. “I love working with wood and I really like to use the Dremel because my hands are a bit stiff from arthritis so that works really well. “It has a little motor and I’ve done just about everything with that … it just chops off the wood,” she added while holding up a project at about the mid-way point of completion. Pfister said with a couple of her projects, which involved wings, she has taught herself how to burn them to give them a natural colour. “The brownish feathers for an owl,” she said, pointing out an example. “I took the torch to it.” As Nicholson did, Olson talked about the evolution of the projects and Hale remaining a guide. “He keeps bringing us along,” she said, adding their first project was a straightforward fish and follow-up projects have involved birds, such as blue jays, cardinals and seagulls, other creatures such as a seal, and some associated with special occasions such as Halloween or Christmas. “There was a whole set of Christmas stuff,” Olson said of the patterns. She also talked about a special day when they put together an exhibit of their work to share with a local rug hookers group who did the same. “They invited us in to see their rug hooking and then we reciprocated by inviting them in to see our projects,” she said, adding it was just another enjoyable part of being part of the Geriatric Carvers. For more on Town of Truro recreation activities, visit truro.ca/programs-andevents and for more on the Douglas Street facility, visit truro.ca/douglas-street-recreation-centre.