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Grand Forks Woodworkers Guild seeking new members, welcomes public with open house

If you like creating things with your hands and spending time with like-minded people, woodworking may be for you.
Carver Don Froese works on his latest carving out of cottonwood at the Grand Forks Woodworkers Guild’s shop on Donaldson Drive during the organization’s open house on Saturday. He was also showing off some of this other projects, including walking canes and poles carved out of diamond willow. Photo Karen McKinley

If you like creating things with your hands and spending time with like-minded people, woodworking may be for you.

And the Grand Forks Woodworkers Guild would love to see more people join them for both membership and to keep the art of woodworking and woodcarving alive in the community.

The guild held an open house at its shop on Donaldson Drive on Saturday to show the public members’ private projects, work they have done for groups like the Boundary Historical Society and what they have to offer.

Mostly they offer a space for people to do small projects, art pieces, some volunteer work and host classes for a $30 a year membership, said member Bob McTavish.

“We want to show people what we do and why woodworking and carving is a great hobby,” McTavish said. “We had a few people come and go and some showed interest and one new member signed up.”

Himself and other members were on hand to talk about their creations.

There is still a strong interest in the work the guild does, but members want to see that turn into active memberships. McTavish said like a lot of clubs, their members are getting older and they want to see more young people get involved. Most members come to them when they are older and have taken up the craft in their retirement.

However, they are open to everyone. The carvers come in Wednesday mornings and Saturday evenings, while the woodworkers meet Tuesdays and Saturday mornings.

Both groups need more people, McTavish said, with plenty of room in the shop for people to work on their projects. However, McTavish stressed this was a workshop for hobbyists working on smaller projects or volunteering to build on a project.

While it was an open house, the guild’s workshop is open to anyone and members love it when people come in to see the projects. Don Froese was working on his latest carving in cottonwood while chatting with fellow carvers.

He picked up carving after he retired and has other reasons for loving carving besides making things.

“It’s a lot like meditation,” he said. “It’s therapeutic. It takes a lot of focus and hand-eye coordination. I carve five days a week and I have a little shop in my house. I can sit there and carve all day.”

Carving is something anyone can learn with enough practice, he added. There are people who naturally can carve with expert skills, but for people like him learning has brought him joy and peace.

There’s also the social aspect for himself and fellow carvers. They come down to meet, have snacks and talk while working on their favourite hobby.

The best part, he said, is looking at an uncarved piece of wood, seeing a figure and carving it out of the wood.

“It’s already there, I just need to take out the parts I don’t need,” he said.

An all-ages carving class is being planned for September, Froese said, which they hope to include all tools and wood. A specific day and time has yet to be finalized.

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