Cube is an interactive object.
Looking through it from various angles, one is able to explore the intricate internal web structure. It’s like viewing the cellular structure of wood without the aid of a microscope.
Cube is a personal challenge and test of skill as a woodworker. It began as a project which involved drilling holes in extremely precise locations.
Cube is created in very small batches.
We use only basic hand operated woodworking machinery.
Cube is made from responsibly harvested local wood.
Cube is a patented design.
Cube sparked the catalyst that ultimately led to the creation of AxeWood Inc.
Our father always carved spoons. During a visit home in my early twenties, I asked him to teach me how.
It wasn’t as easy as dad made it look. But after many failed attempts, creating objects that looked more like doorstops than spoons, I learned to embrace the twists and curves, textures and ripples of each individual piece of wood and I began to develop my own carving style.
An axe is prone to following the grain and this allows the wood to dictate the final form of each individual piece. There’s no predetermined design. The will of the wood is the dominant factor in the process of creation. I refer to this method as "freeform".
After rough carving with the axe, the piece is further refined using knives, chisels and other hand tools until the texture is extremely smooth and “glassy” to the touch. I want these spoons to match the sensuality and pleasure we can find in the creation and consumption of good food.
As you can imagine, living in a big city poses wood supply problems. So I started collecting branches and roots from landscaping jobs and used these to carve my spoons.
The two spoons in the photo are from Lilac branches.
I’ve wanted to carve bowls for a very long time.
A few years ago we began to acquire tree parts larger than your average pruned branch, like this fruit Cherry for example. This branch is from a tree that died off in the yard of our next door neighbour…can't get your wood supply more local than that…just over the fence.
These are my first "successful" hand carved bowls (the others have provided a great deal of warmth on a cold winter day). These particular bowls are made from a section of branch that had grown with a ninety degree bend in it. I cut the section in half to create this book matched set. I hand carve the occasional freeform bowl when I'm feeling up to the challenge… and when I need a serious physical workout.
Freeform bowls are where I began combining the contrasting textures of a smooth sanded surface and the undulating and rippling texture created by the chisels. This play with texture has inspired other designs.
“…and now for something completely different…”
In a complete reversal from the creative process of creating “Freeform Bowls”, where the wood gets to determine the final shape and texture of the object, the “Geo Bowls” are where I get to decide the outcome. I think this dance between organic forms and the crisp lines of geometry provides a means for balance in my work.
The original “GEO bowls” were made from the left over end cuts from the cubes. I had taken them off the shelf with the intent to make coasters out of them but the dimensions were too small. So I intentionally left them on the workbench in a place where I would have to keep moving them to work on other things. (I do not recommend this as a creative methodology).
As with many design ideas, the epiphany arrives in the shower one night. "Hey, what if I carved a bowl into the block". "That may be difficult, you'll be carving into the end grain". "You'll figure it out, just do it"
So I did it.
And this is how the design series began.
Photo Credit: Adrian & Nina Photography
Food & Presentation: Chef Regina Lee, "Farm In The City" January 2020
The square block represents the strength, durability and resilience of wood, reflecting the foundation of our homes.
The bowl, being an inverted semi-sphere, represents the earth and the abundance it provides to enrich our lives.
The rectangular sides of the “Square” design act as a canvas, displaying the intricate grain patterns and figuring of the wood.
The “Triangulated Square”, long favoured by engineers for its strength and resistance to unpredictable forces, represents flexibility and endurance.
The grain patterns wrap and fold in upon each other creating an infinite connection.
These bowls, like the “Freeform Bowls”, are individually hand carved from local wood.
MINI BUD VASES
This design came about as many others…contemplating what to do with pieces of wood that were “left-over’s”.
Just as the “Geo Bowls” were designed from the end cuts left over from making the “Cubes”, these “Mini bud vases” are made from the corners that were cut off the “Geo Bowls” to create the “Triangulated Square” design.
The concept of turning them into mini vases was inspired by spring cleaning.
Timeless and serene, the triangular form offers beauty and stability, grace and strength. The wood is left in its natural state to accent and compliment whatever you wish to display.
This design triggered the explosion of vase carving that followed.
A design driven by desire.
After making the triangle mini bud vases, a small pile of wood in the shop taunts me, wanting to be embraced and explored, to have the dust shaken from its’ surface, to shine and stand proud in the light.
This little taunting pile of wood combines with a desire to create vessels inspired by memories of the past, such as the vintage apothecary bottles we used to discover as children while foraging around in the woods.
A desire that draws me to pare it down to the basics, the origins of my work and what it represents,…the axe and the knife. Back to where my skills began so long ago. A desire not to force the wood to have a purpose, one that allows it to exist in its’ true form, one in which it can be appreciated for its raw beauty.
This series of vessels combines the textures created by the axe and knife. The axe discovers the forms within, while the sharp edge of the knife smoothes the surface and pronounces the grain patterns. Sometimes the split texture is left because that’s the way the wood desires to remain.
As I continue to make these, I find myself drawn in and mesmerized more and more by the forms that emerge, it seems to have unleashed a passion within me of which I was previously unaware.
Light & Dark, the stark, striking contrast in Black Walnut between the sap wood and heart wood, was the inspiration for this design.
While I started carving the “Freeform” vases first, “Duo” was actually the first bud vase design I‘d conjured up. The process of carving the “Freeform” pieces allowed my mind to meander endlessly through the thousands of creative and practical possibilities. It’s this process I love so much. It’s one of my greatest pleasures. Here’s what my mind stumbled on this time.
By designing and carving two of them from a single piece of wood and creating an offset height for the flutes on each piece, it accents the “Light & Dark” of the wood…and it also allows them to be made without waste.
The result is a unique, mirrored set… a duo of “Duo”.
I carve “Duo” with just a knife and the occasional influence of a small chisel. It seems the knife likes to chase the natural ripples in the grain of the Black Walnut. Sometimes, this creates wonderful little wave patterns in the finished piece.
RIVEN & HEWN
Inspired by the first days of European settlement and logging on the West Coast, The Riven & Hewn series is specifically designed to echo the textures and contours of early West Coast architecture: hand split cedar shake, axe-hewn timbers and notched logs.
Designed in partnership with “Laughing Loggers”, each one of these unique pieces is created using off-cuts from their chainsaw carving and sawing competitions. Left-over’s…yeah I know…it’s a thing with me.
The Riven & Hewn series reaches back in time to celebrate the rugged strength, delicate beauty, subtle colours and intricate patterns hidden within Western Red Cedar.
These unique, hand crafted pieces from AxeWood will warm and grace any home.
RIVEN & HEWN is currently available by request, please email to inquire and/or book a viewing appointment.
These vases took a little longer to make than I anticipated. The challenge was to discover if I could create this vase…this piece of “Organic Geometry”… with only an axe and a knife. Unlike the “Freeform” vases, which are somewhat easier to carve because they’re more convex and that allows only a small section of the blade to be in contact with the wood, with The “Organic Geometry” vases, the curve of the axe blade creates a concave in the spiral flutes and this is far more difficult for the knife to follow and smooth out.
But the result, I think is worth it. I love this combination of nature and mathematics.
The greatest question you can ask any designer…or any designer can ask of themselves is…“What if…?”
I’m very fortunate. I get to ask this question regularly. As both a designer and maker, I can go straight from “What if…” to, “Let’s see if this thing is even possible.”. I seldom make design drawings. I just grab my axe and my knife, take a moment to imagine what lies inside the wood, project my vision onto the piece and start carving. This is a luxury most designers don’t have…and it’s something I cherish.
So, in this case, ”What if… I take this rectangular stick of wood, cut it to the desired length, drill a hole in the middle and begin carving?” Can I find a way to create a vase whose sides twist and spiral up from the bottom like a wave
To create the design, I position the piece so that it’s “upside down”. Then I gradually rotate the piece of wood as I carve, working my way down towards the top…the square opening for the flowers. This micro rotation allows each swing of the axe to slowly form the spiral. As I carve I’m constantly wondering, “Will it work?”
Well, the answer is in the photos.