Artist carves himself a lifelong hobby

NANAIMO: Carving allows life's stresses to slip away for artist.

Don Olsen has honed his skills as a carver over the last 25 years. Olsen and other carvers share their knowledge with people during Mid Island Carving Club meetings that start this September in Bowen Park’s wood workshop.

Don Olsen has honed his skills as a carver over the last 25 years. Olsen and other carvers share their knowledge with people during Mid Island Carving Club meetings that start this September in Bowen Park’s wood workshop.

The complex wood grains of oak, cedar and birch became a canvas for Don Olsen’s imagination to shape.

It started as an escape from mounting stress at work. A bad day at the office sent Olsen to his basement workshop. He would lose track of time. His worries slipped away.

“All I had to do is concentrate … it was flowing out through my fingers and into the wood,” he said.

What started as stress relief became a lifelong hobby. After 25 years of carving Olsen defines himself as an artist, preferring not to be regarded as simply a hewer of wood.

Nature is his inspiration. He often carves birds or wild animals such as wolves, deer or moose.

Many of his pieces are finished with wax that lets the natural grains show through, but also means any flaws caused by the carver are very visible. It takes skill to create a piece and finish it with wax. Other pieces such as birds are painstakingly painted.

Olsen shares his expertise with newcomers during Mid Island Carving Club meetings held in Bowen Park’s woodwork shop. Meetings start again in September, after a brief hiatus this summer.

They’re held 9-11:30 a.m. every Thursday in the workshop, located in the lower level of the complex.

The shop has a library stocked with carving reference books and equipment such as band saws and sanders.

Other members are also willing to share their knowledge with new carvers.

“We have a lot of experienced carvers and they are quite prepared to critique work and make all sorts of recommendations – not in a harsh way, but an encouraging way,” said Olsen, who loves to share his knowledge with new carvers and watch as their skills develop.

“I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction … you can almost see your own craft being transformed in that person’s hands,” he said.

Every year Island carvers are also invited to show their work during the Nanaimo Harbour City Seniors Woodcarving Show and Competition.

This year’s 18th annual show is Nov. 3 at Bowen Park. Carver registration is 8:30-10 a.m., judging begins at 10:30 a.m., and the show is open to the public from noon to 4 p.m.

Olsen said the show has categories for all skill levels from novice to expert. The event also allows people to connect with other carvers on the Island and share knowledge.

Just Posted

District of Lantzville Mayor Mark Swain, left, and Snaw-Naw-As Chief Gordon Edwards sign a memorandum of understanding outside Snaw-Naw-As Market on Friday, June 18. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Lantzville and Snaw-Naw-As sign memorandum of understanding

District and First Nation create joint working group

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press file photo
RCMP seek suspect in Vancouver Island-wide crime spree

Crimes stretched from Deep Bay to Qualicum, Ladysmith, Chemainus and Youbou

Tilray announces new line of products offering more inexpensive choices for medical cannabis users. (News Bulletin file photo)
Nanaimo-based Tilray launches new medical cannabis product line

Symbios brand products offered at ‘better price point’ for medical cannabis products

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Janice Coady, left, Aimee Chalifoux and Linda Milford at a vigil for Amy Watts on Wednesday, June 16, outside Nanaimo city hall. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
‘We need to do better,’ says mother of woman killed in Nanaimo

Vigil held for former outreach worker Amy Watts, whose body was found downtown June 3

The B.C. Ministry of Education has announced close to $44 million for the province’s schools for COVID-19 recovery. (News Bulletin file)
Nanaimo-Ladysmith school stakeholders say COVID-19 recovery funding can make a difference

B.C. Ministry of Education announces it expects a ‘near-normal’ return to class in September

Regional District of Nanaimo is looking to repair sewage pipe in the Hammond Bay Road area, which was corroded by gas. (Black Press file)
Corroded sewer pipe along Nanaimo’s Hammond Bay Road will cost $5.5 million to fix

Pipe replacement and reinforcement part of $6.9-million infrastructure project

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Most Read