With a chainsaw, sandpaper and some epoxy, Henry Peters has found a way to showcase nature’s own art.
Since moving to the 108 Mile four years ago, Peters has taken to cutting up aspen logs from his woodpile and sanding them down to the grain. By doing so he reveals the beautiful natural designs hidden within that would otherwise burn up in his fireplace.
“You can’t really tell what you got until you start to sand. When you cut it open with the chainsaw the edges are very grainy and fibrous,” Peters said. “You have to sand them and then the pattern comes out.”
Peters, a retired carpenter, crafts the wood into tables, hot spots, wall art and, recently, even plaques for pictures. This summer, under the name Nature’s Design, he’s begun selling his creations at the 108 Heritage Market.
He got the idea after he and his wife Bobbie moved to the South Cariboo, into a cozy little cabin in the woods. As Bobbie still works, Peters said his wood-crafting started out as something to do when she was away from home.
“We have a wood furnace, so naturally I was collecting firewood all the time and I started to see a lot of fir wood with good thick bark and I thought ‘gee that would make a really good tabletop or plant stand,’” Peters said.
One day he decided to test his theory by cutting some wood from an old tree stump on his property. After sanding it down, Peters said he thought it looked good but couldn’t figure out how to finish it. It wasn’t until some neighbours came by for dinner and suggested he use epoxy that the pieces fell into places.
“I gave it a try and, oh my gosh, it looked amazing. It has this nice glass-like finish that sets the wood off so nice.”
Somewhere along the way, Peters picked up an aspen log to cut it up and sand down. Doing so revealed a beautiful ring pattern, which Bobbie suggested they preserve with epoxy and use as a hot pad. They worried at first that the hot pad would stick to the frying pan but it worked like a charm.
Peters then made several more hot pads from the same log and gave them to friends, who said he should consider selling them.
Over the last few years, Peters kept on chopping up logs with his chainsaw, sanding down the pieces and epoxying the ones with cool designs. Both Parkside Gallery and the Crafter’s Market on Birch Avenue took a few of his pieces, some of which sold in the first week.
Earlier this year Peter began experimenting again, this time with gluing pictures to fir wood before applying the epoxy. He started out with pictures of deer but soon began doing all sorts of pictures.
“Then I found some old pictures of my family, from the turn-of-the-last-century, and thought this would be a great way to preserve them and pass them down to the grandchildren so they don’t get wrecked or sit in an album where nobody can see them.”
By the time spring came this year Peters said he had quite a few pieces piling up in the house so he and Bobbie decided to look for a way to sell them. The Heritage Market, with its low rental cost and flexible schedule, proved to be a perfect fit.
Bobbie makes the banner, labels and bags. “She’s the best. I call her my design consultant. She doesn’t take any credit for the work when people ask but she should because I’m always asking her advice on how to place things and which woods to use,” Peters said.
Peters said he never thought of himself as an artist.
”Nature is the actual artist I’m just bringing the pictures to life,” he said.