Alan Easton is a wood carver and one of our featured artists in this months ‘A New Age’ exhibit, displaying a collection of intricately carved canes and walking sticks in his first ever art gallery show.
But Alan doesn’t consider himself an artists. With no formal training, and being dyslexic and colorblind, carving was something that found him, and growing up in a woodworking family, he has worked with wood all his life and found that carving was the most enjoyable and relaxing form of woodwork for him.
He enjoys making something that is useful to people, describing that canes are very personal as they have to fit and feel comfortable or you’re just carrying a stick. Not only are these functional in aiding a person to walk but many of his walking sticks are loosely fashioned after self-defence sticks used by many cultures around the world. This type of stick is represented in the thickness and type of handles he makes.
Recycling nature into artworks that retain and enhance the existing beauty of the wood is another satisfaction he gets from his craft. “I’ve always carved but started carving and selling canes and walking sticks about 20 years ago and I’m not sure why. I do remember a Christmas tree I paid over a $100.00 for, when Christmas was done, I thought I have to do something more with it than just burning it. I took the branches off and carved a snake stick.”
Carving a wide range of themes on sticks, he tells us that he’ll go from carving flowers one month, to snakes and skulls the next. Some of his ideas come after walks in the park, and some just out of the blue.
“Just throw a stick or a chunk of wood at me and I’ll make or carve something out of it.”
Alan lives near Bowness Park, where he and his wife often walk. A lot of the canes and sticks are carved from driftwood and fallen branches picked up along the way. His supportive neighbours literally throws sticks at him as well. However, some of the nicest canes come from pruned fruit trees in his own backyard.
“All you need to start carving is a few good knifes, a piece of wood and a lot of bandages.” he says.
He uses replaceable blade knives, which are very sharp and great for fine detail, and occasionally uses power tools to remove and shape the wood, especially if he’s carving larger items like totem poles or support posts but then it’s back to knives and chisels to finish the work.
You will also see wood burning on some pieces. On some of the pieces that need paint, he will leave this to his wife to do. Then it’s onto finishing the pieces with a coat of varnish.
Alan goes into more detail about his collection of canes and walking sticks;
SNAKE Walking Stick – I’m uncomfortable around snakes but I do love to carve them.
DRAGON Walking Stick – One of the first sticks I ever carved was a dragon sticks and we gave it as a birthday present to a family member who just loves it. Since then I knew I’d be carving more.
FISH Walking Stick – Fish are fun. Fishermen love them and my wife likes to paint them.
VIKING WEAVES Cane – This is very different for me. It was interesting learning how to do the pattern. This is a set of 2, the second one is a walking stick with the top portion carved to look like a sword handle. The idea came from pictures of Viking swords.
BURNT FLOWERS Cane – Who does not love a field of flowers?
MARIJUANA Cane – I thought this one was reflective of the times and then I needed to do it five more times.
POKER Cane – I love the game of Poker…sometimes. The cane is styled after a prospector’s pick and the playing hands are from winner to loser. This is my tribute to the game… a perfect hand!
Other than carving, which he does during the winter months, Alan is an avid motorcyclist who enjoys riding in the summer and will put his personal touch on his motorcycles and vehicles. He tells us he is currently putting together a bobber style motorbike and bear many old wounds from my past life in sports so admits he will probably need a cane in the not too distant future, so it had better be a nice one. He also has great admiration for all Indigenous art forms and says he appreciates all art forms from visual arts to film and even other crafts, but has a stronger interest in metal work and rock sculpture as well.
We also look forward to seeing new carvings of a dead sea fish skeleton and more magic wands he is currently working on, stay turned to us for more on these.
Alan does not currently have a website for his work, nor does he use social media so the best place to view and to buy his canes and walking sticks is at Motion Gallery. For enquiries on commissions he can also be contacted through the gallery.
And if you’d like to read more, check out this article, circa 2012
Written by Sandra Montgomery
Edited by Renee Laferriere