Just as a tree can survive hundreds of years, so can well-crafted furniture, said Red Deer’s nature-inspired woodworking artist, Chad Yanulik.
The white gallery, next to Sunworks on Ross Street, is filled with pieces Yanulik salvaged from the forest, then transformed into objects of beauty — from his burled maple sculptures and one-of-a-kind vessels, to pine driftwood wall hanging.
The vessels range in form, colour and wood grain. Some contain eye-catching natural burls. But all are smoothly turned and strengthened with resin. Sometimes there are blue-green streaks from a process in which Yanulik grinds turquoise stone into a fine powder and then mixes it to colour the clear resin.
His The Edge of Nature exhibit also includes pieces of hand-planed furniture, including a hall table made with 148 dove-tail joints and not a single nail. The narrow table with drawers is made of wood pieces positioned in the same direction that wood naturally grows on a tree so it will never warp or crack, said Yanulik.
“It will last forever. It can be passed down through generations and generations…”
He realizes this long-range thinking runs contrary to the inclinations of our throw-away society. But Yanulik knows there’s still an appreciation for painstaking craftsmanship. The Trochu native sells his works in Calgary and Edmonton, makes pieces for Red Deer’s Simms Furniture, and creates cabinets and unique light fixtures for home builders.
Some of his decorative objects are made from forest debris, in partnership with metal artist Shane Seib of Sylvan Lake, who contributed some all-metal sculptures to the white gallery show. Yanulik believes combining metal with wood lessens its coldness, while metal gives a contemporary edge to wooden pieces.
The 40-year-old developed his love for woodworking in school shop class. When he was 17, he moved to Calgary to learn from renowned wood artist, Lee Wong, who taught him much about wood grain and how to use it to best advantage.
Yanulik recalled his mentor as a man of few words. But Wong paid him the ultimate compliment: When he died some years ago, Wong left Yanulik all of his carving tools. In tribute to this honour, Yanulik named his Red Deer studio Chad-Lee Designs.
The artisan, who considers himself “a fan of nature,” hopes others will see its beauty through his work.
The show runs to Jan. 28.