Carving stories in stone

South Cariboo stone carver Vance Theoret has been carving stone bears and other wildlife for more than 20 years

Vance Theoret's passion for stone carving shows in the way he creates his artwork.

Vance Theoret's passion for stone carving shows in the way he creates his artwork.

Starting as a carver more than 20 years ago, Vance Theoret says he saw a friend carving and wanted to try it.

“You know the moment when you’ve found something that works for you? Well, I found it.”

Vance is a man of few words, as are many who work with stone. But when he does get talking, you can feel his passion for the stone that he works with right away.

How he communicates with the stone is hard to put into words but nonetheless very tangible.

“I look at the stone and see the shapes.”

Using this first impression of what the stone has revealed, Vance applies a “direct carve” approach, letting the design emerge. This rough image is then refined into a clean, solid sculpture, with precise yet minimal detail.

“I let the stone tell me what it wants to be. The results are far more exciting than if I forced my ideas on my material.”

While his work portrays the physical presence of the stone, it also evokes a wide range of emotions from humour to a sense of tenderness shared between mother and a baby. It seems to touch you on a very primal level.

Working alabaster, soap stone, slate, chlorite and Kissi stone, Vance carves a variety of subjects, but bears are by far his favourite.

“Bears are like big kids that never really grow up. I can get away with portraying a lot of human qualities in them.

“I like to explore the more playful curious aspects of bears.”

The stones are speaking in a different tone lately, and his newest works have a story to tell. The pieces are almost fluid in looks, with different shapes carved in a swirl fashion.

“These newer carvings take me to a different level of creativity.”

Vance’s work ranges from small pieces for gifts to larger sculptures for private and corporate collections and can be found as far away as Germany, Switzerland, France, Holland, Taiwan and Japan.

He will be exhibiting his works at upcoming shows, including the Artym Gallery in Invermere, the Annual Western Lights Fall Show in Calgary and Edmonton, and Wintergreen Show in Regina.

Vance’s work can be seen at Stone Bear Gallery in 100 Mile House at 380 First St.

For more information, check out his website at


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