If you were not able to attend the recent Medieval Market in Williams Lake you missed seeing some very high-end wood products that are not available in most large commercial stores. As expected there was some duplication of products among the 12 artists that I talked to (from Prince George to 100 Mile House), but each had developed a unique product line that they had become very adept at producing and marketing.
James Steidle from Prince George relies on local hardwoods for most of his cutting boards, coasters and handles for his homemade knives and canoe paddles. He is one of the few that makes his living from his woodworking, and he has a wide variety of jobs that have allowed him to experience the frustration of dealing with government regulations in his attempt to get raw materials for his business.
Vern Richardson and Christy Wootten (Turns and Folds) produce a wide variety of wood-turning bowls and quilts from their home in Quesnel. Like many of the other artisans their products are one-of-a-kind and will not be found in the box stores, so you can expect to pay a little more but can enjoy their works of art that you will want to be kept on display rather than stored in a cupboard somewhere. Julie Mann from McLeese Lake who, with help from her daughter Serenna Bailey, runs Cariboo Laser Designs. Julie can make very detailed custom engravings from your favourite photo or design with her laser beam cutter. She still has a full-time job, makes pottery and hopes to eventually spend more time on her woodworking business.
Five of the woodworkers were from the Williams Lake and Horsefly area, including Bob and Coleen Onofrechuk (Col of the Wild Woodwork) from Horsefly. They had three tables with a wide variety of wood products for cabins, including fish bonkers, bathroom tissue holders, diamond painting washboards and burls that looked like a turtle to a tree that appeared to have its intestines spilling out (at least that is the comment made by a passing youngster).
Also from Horsefly was Melissa Lazar (Hillside Wood Works), who uses a computer numerical controlled CNC laser to produce wall plaques along with message boards and calendars. She also has a sheep farm and gets most of her raw materials from her property and salvage opportunities. One of our stops was at the woodworking class display from the Lake City Senior Secondary. They were selling wood crates, stools, tables and a variety of projects that students decided to sell rather than take home.
Allen Stafford, along with his dad Fred (Wheel Chair Wood Turnings), are familiar faces at the Williams Lake Farmers Market. Allen uses a lathe to make wood handles for pens, awls, fire-making flints, shoe horns, ice cream scoops and many other kitchen items, such as coffee and pepper grinders. Also available are seam rollers for quilters and cheese knives. After three-plus years producing, Allen has been enjoying the marketing aspect of the business where he has been getting feedback and ideas for new products from customers and some custom orders.
Ted Bruce (Ted’s Custom Tables ) from Williams lake makes extensive use of resin and burls and mostly local woods to make a variety of tables, placemats and wooden rounds, which can be used to make a variety of furniture. He also points out that it is advisable to have small items like coasters to sell at markets.
The remaining businesses were from the 100 Mile area, including Jim and Sherry (Tiny Timber Toy Company) who started by making toys for their grandchildren and ended up making extras during COVID. They make lots of toy vehicles, puzzles made mostly from beetle-killed pine and more complicated balancing puzzles made from a variety of hardwoods. They make a point that all their toys are finished with non-toxic products. Jim also showed me some pictures of truck transport units made in the likeness of a vehicle that he once drove.
Bob Beaumont (Creations by Bob) located at Lone Butte makes pen handles, coffee and pepper grinders on his wood lathe using ambrosia beetle-killed wood. He has been working at this hobby for about five years.
Mark and Shelley Larson (Marks Wood Turning ) from 103 Mile Road produce vases, bowls, resin tables and bowls with fractal burning. They emphasize that it is just a hobby ( two markets per year), but they produce some very interesting wood products, including acrylic bowls mixed with leaves, pencil crayons and sections of golf balls.
Dan and Wendy Milloy from Bridge Lake Wood Company had fine-grained cutting boards from kiln-dried exotic wood stocks. Dan has had a very diverse background in the forest industry, including log house building, and they currently reside in Lone Butte.
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