Featured Artist for November
Woodworking Artist: Kirk Chenier
Kirk Chenier has been a passionate woodworker for decades. In 2011, he went through cancer treatment, which gave him an opportunity to reflect on what was most important to him and brought him joy. This is when he began to delve into the creation of hardwood cutting boards. The positive feedback and increase in demand he received encouraged him to create an identity for his work, and in early 2014, Kirk’s Cutting Edge was born.
Kirk creates hand-made, unique cutting boards that add an artistic flair to a classic kitchen item. His functional pieces of art are made with great care and food-safe materials.
Kirk will be participating in MAC’s Second Annual Holiday Artisan Show and Sale this December! If you are interested in his work, be sure to mark the dates on your calendars and visit!
Friday, Dece,ber 5th, 2014, 4 – 10 p.m.
Saturday, December 6th, 2014, 10 – 6 p.m.
Location: Stiver Mill and Train Station at 7 Station Lane (off Unionville Main Street).
Here, Kirk shares his creative journey and inspirations with us.
1) How and when did you discover your passion for making cutting board art from wood? What motivated you to pursue it?
During my many years of creating items out of wood I was always intrigued by things I hadn’t tried to craft yet. As I perused many of the woodworking magazines I have at home, I noticed some ideas for butcher block cutting boards and decided to try one. I crafted my first one about 10 years ago and have been creating my own designs ever since. Accepting myself as an “artist” has taken some time to evolve though. I have been transforming items from raw wood to finished product for over 30 years now, but always defined myself as a woodworker. Many of the people that see the boards have commented on their artistic appeal. When they ask me about my boards they often comment on my artistic passion. Up until recently I have always thought of my sister as the artistic one in our family, but I’m quickly gaining on her I guess. I just love challenging myself to come up with new wood patterns.
2) Tell us a bit about the process for creating your artwork.
The process has evolved over the years using trial and error for the most part. I really try and bring the wood to life in a new way in my shop. It takes time to seek out woods with great pattern. Experimentation is also necessary to understand which woods hide their beauty that only gets revealed at the mineral oil finish stage of the process. It takes 7-8 different steps to complete one board with about 3 hours of total work time for each.
3) How did your website and business come to fruition?
In 2011, I went through cancer treatment. It was a time to reflect on what is truly important in my life and what brings me joy. I loved working in my shop, but not on high stress pieces of furniture for others with tight deadlines. So I stopped. This is when I really started experimenting with the boards and was receiving a great deal of positive feedback about them and demand grew. It was clear the cutting boards needed an identity and we established Kirk’s Cutting Edge in early 2014. Knowing how powerful social media is these days, the website and Facebook page were created at the same time as the business. It has been incredible to see how far-reaching these tools are.
4) Who has helped you the most with your craft and in what ways?
Naming one individual that has helped me gain the knowledge I have is tough. I have worked with some great craftsmen along the way. I have picked up great ideas and ways of working with wood that are all part of one large mixing bowl of thought and process. Many of the techniques and ideas I use today were brought forward by trying something to see how it would work out. They didn’t always turn out how I’d hoped, but I learned and improved from them.
5) Are there other art forms that influence your work? Ones that you admire or would like to learn?
I have always admired old school architectural woodworking. Just knowing there were no power tools in that era leaves me in awe of the craftsmanship to be able to create such beauty by hand. I appreciate anything that highlights the natural pattern of wood.
6) What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
You need to love what you are creating. You have to be willing to try things and not be held back by failure. You personally and what you are creating will be stronger in the end.
7) How can we learn more and keep up with your latest work?
Following our website (www.kirkscuttingedge.ca) and liking our Facebook page (Kirk’s Cutting Edge) is the best way to keep up with what new boards are being created, where you might find us at an event, and how others feel about the boards. We love feedback!