Yellow Cedar and the Day Job

Since I left the business world and began creating my Paintings and Artwork. I have been doing many different things to keep afloat. In the early days it was house painting and that led to basic wood working, installing baseboard and crown mouldings. Day by Day, month by month the work increased and I developed abilities I did not know I had. At the best of times the  Day Job turned into another creative outlet and I began to fall in love with Yellow Cedar. I have always loved wood and wanted to be a carpenter before I ever touched a paint brush. But, I did not expect to make a living and provide for my family in this way. Life has many paths to follow and change comes along whether you ask for it or not. So, I followed a path that would keep the wolf at bay while I waited for people to start buying my paintings on a regular basis. The path led me back to a trade I wanted to do since I was twelve years old. Creating things out of wood.

Yellow Cedar is my favorite wood to work with, it is a very special wood. It is grown on mountain sides on the West Coast of British Columbia and Alaska. It is very finely grained, it does not rot, it’s resistant to bugs, it has the most beautiful buttery yellow colour when it is freshly cut, it is incredibly strong, yet soft and easy to carve. When planing it, the the wood curls in almost infinite strings along the board and it smells wonderful.

It’s official name is Callitropsis Nootkatensis or Nootka Cypress after the Nootka People of the West Coast. For many thosands of years they revered this wood and used it to make highly decorative masks and everyday items like spoons and bowls. Hilary Stewart wrote about the Origin of the Nootka Cypress or Yellow Cedar in her book Cedar: Tree of Life to the Northwest Indians According to a Nootka Legend A raven encounters three women drying salmon on the beach. He asks the women if they are afraid of being alone, if they are afraid of bears, wolves, and other animals. Each woman responded “No”. But, when asked if they were afraid of Owls, the women said that they were very afraid of owls. Hearing this the trickster Raven hid in the forest, and made the calls of an owl. The women were terrified and ran up into the mountains, but turned into Nootka Cypress trees when they were out of breath and exhausted. According to Legend that is why the Yellow Cedar trees grow on the sides of mountains, and also why the bark is silky like a woman’s hair, the young trunk smooth like a woman’s body…

I paint and I cut and craft wood and look after my family. It will all lead into something and take me somewhere. The path is long and I am enjoying the journey.

Rob

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