Students carve new niche in the classroom

Declan Kerr blows dust off of his sculpture while learning how to carve soapstone at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Declan Kerr blows dust off of his sculpture while learning how to carve soapstone at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Noah Bissat uses a file to shape a piece of sopastone at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Gauge Bishop glances up with a smile from sawing a piece of soapstone off of his carving. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Gauge Bishop glances up with a smile from sawing a piece of soapstone off of his carving. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Gauge Bishop glances up with a smile from sawing a piece of soapstone off of his carving. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Gauge Bishop glances up with a smile from sawing a piece of soapstone off of his carving. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Ainsley McKinnon uses a stone saw to carve off a sliver of rock during a lesson taught by local stone carver Vance Theoret. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Ainsley McKinnon uses a stone saw to carve off a sliver of rock during a lesson taught by local stone carver Vance Theoret. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Soapstone carver Vance Theoret checks in on the progress of his students at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Soapstone carver Vance Theoret checks in on the progress of his students at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Dominick Nelson uses a file to shape a piece of soapstone into a bear. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Dominick Nelson uses a file to shape a piece of soapstone into a bear. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Jonathan Ladd smirks with his hands covered in stone dust at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Jonathan Ladd smirks with his hands covered in stone dust at Horse Lake Elementary School. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Surrounded by students carving soapstone Vance Theoret, 100 Mile’s resident soapstone carver, sits back and watches them work. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Surrounded by students carving soapstone Vance Theoret, 100 Mile’s resident soapstone carver, sits back and watches them work. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Local stone carver Vance Theoret gives Horse Lake Elementary School student Paisley Pereman some tips on how to bring her sculpture to life. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Local stone carver Vance Theoret gives Horse Lake Elementary School student Paisley Pereman some tips on how to bring her sculpture to life. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Landon Berube focuses on turning a piece of soapstone into a stylized skull. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Landon Berube focuses on turning a piece of soapstone into a stylized skull. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Aspen Nickles (left) loved carving soapstones with her classmates including Dominick Nelson, Blayne Taylor and Gauge Bishop. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)
Aspen Nickles (left) loved carving soapstones with her classmates including Dominick Nelson, Blayne Taylor and Gauge Bishop. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)Aspen Nickles (left) loved carving soapstones with her classmates including Dominick Nelson, Blayne Taylor and Gauge Bishop. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press) Aspen Nickles (left) loved carving soapstones with her classmates including Dominick Nelson, Blayne Taylor and Gauge Bishop. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 MIle Free Press)

Horse Lake Elementary’s Grade 7 class learned the fine art of soapstone carving last week.

Vance Theoret, owner of Stone Bear Art Gallery, guided the students in shaping a variety of woodland animals and abstract designs. He donated all the soapstone and tools.

“Carving is a learning process,” he said. “You just have to have some fun and know you’re going to make mistakes but it’s OK because in the end, you’ll learn from them.”

Grade 7 teacher Lisa Pugh said her students wanted to work with their hands and make some 3D shapes and that’s why they brought in Theoret. They chose to run the session to the tunes of an ’80s rock and roll soundtrack to inspire the students.

“We had also heard that when surgeons do surgery, they listen to AC/DC, so we’re playing AC/DC to get us in the groove,” Pugh said.

Dominick Nelson and his classmates Blayne Taylor, Gauge Bishop and Aspen Nickles loved the chance to work with their hands. Learning about the properties of soapstone was especially interesting to Dominick, who said he never knew you could saw a stone in half.

He and Blayne both chose to make bears while Gauge chose a fish and Aspen a snail.

“It’s very hands-on and a different kind of learning and I’m enjoying myself very much,” Blayne said. “It’s a very mind-powered art. You can picture what you’re going to make before you even get to the stone because the stone speaks to you and shows itself.”

Dominick said he really enjoyed using a hammer and chisel, saw and finally a file to shave the soapstone down into the desired shape. Aspen said starting off with a smaller rock allowed her to see the results faster.

“It’s super fun but it makes your hands really tired because you just have to keep carving away at it,” Aspen said. “When you see how it looks though, you get so excited.”

Theoret has done several workshops over the last decade and said the students were all “very keen” to be learning from him.

“When my sons were growing up inevitably the teachers would ask me to come and do a little demonstration for the kids,” Theoret said. “That got around and every year I get asked to come to the classes, but now it’s a matter of the kids wanting to create something.”

Pugh said the class will continue throughout the rest of the year to carve on their own until they complete their pieces. She said that is one of the most artistic classes she’s had in a while.

“I haven’t had a year like this in a while. These kids, all they want to do is art, and you just look around and everything is just gorgeous and creative. When you get a class like this, you just let them lead on where you’re going to go.”



patrick.davies@100milefreepress.net

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