Artists work with a variety of mediums - charcoal, paint, pastels, textiles, and for some, wood. Just ask Patrick McNutt of Wooden Fox Woodworking, and he'll tell you why wood is his medium of choice.
"For me, it's not even about the making of the art, but rather choosing the trees for production, where I find my connection. I use non-living trees - fallen trees from wind storms, etc. The process of being in the woods, selecting the tree(s), and reusing the lumber, is giving the once living tree the opportunity for a second chance. To be beautiful, again."
McNutt grew up in Nova Scotia, where he developed a love for nature, and an appreciation of trees, as he and his grandfather spent a lot of time in the woods. "I am not happier than when I am in the woods. It's my place," says McNutt. His love for woodworking began when he was a child; but only a couple years ago, did he dive head in, and startup his own business.
McNutt uses mostly hardwood - Maple, Elm, Birch - with the exception of Pine, a softwood, which he utilizes to frame some of his pieces. He is passionate about using reclaimed lumber as a resource to create something beautiful. He is driven to share stories through the wood.
One story that exemplifies his resourcefulness, and the beauty of reusing fallen trees, comes from Victoria by the Sea, the home of the Island's oldest tree - a massive Elm. "During a storm, a very large branch had fallen from the Elm - it was huge," says McNutt. "I'd heard the property owners were just going to use the wood for burning. When I'd contacted them to ask if I could buy it off of them, they just gave it to me. It's finally dry and ready to use." McNutt says he's been letting the fallen branch - the size of a tree itself - air dry for the past four years. It's only ready now to go into production.
Above: Patrick MacNutt displays some of his scroll work. (Photo property of Marshfield Press).
The woodworker, who has milled his own wood, believes air drying the fallen lumber is the better option, despite the timeline. "Air drying allows more time for the tree to naturally lose its tension. The wood settles in a more quiet, organic way. Plus, it's cheaper, and therefore more economically sound for a small business."
Wooden Fox Woodworking is well known for McNutt's beautiful scroll work. He has created a diverse range of images via scroll work - mostly animals and wildlife - which many people admire. These pieces are his most sought out work, and often a high selling item at the Christmas craft fairs, and local shops around the Maritimes. He also selects unique pieces of wood to create a variety of contemporary furniture, such as custom coffee tables.
Above: The work of Patrick McNutt. McNutt says foxes are his favourite image to scroll into wood, thus explaining the name of his business, Wooden Fox Woodworking. (Photo property of Marshfield Press).
McNutt's work is sold at many locations around the Island and Nova Scotia - mostly at small businesses, like his own - as he is a proud advocate for supporting local. However, some higher-end galleries and shops, which display local artisans' work, carry his pieces as well; such as the Showcase at the Confederation Centre.
Above: some of McNutt's smaller pieces, available at local gift shops around the Island. These pieces are very popular with tourists and locals alike. (Photo property of Marshfield Press).
The woodworker's wife, Stephanie says, "There is something special about watching Patrick's process. The way he scouts out the perfect tree, and qualifies his wood for specific projects. It's amazing to see how happy he is when he connects with the woods, and seeing that trend work into his projects." When asked what it's like being married to a woodworker, she jokes, "Well, I didn't know how much sawdust I'd be cleaning up around the house, when he comes back in from working."
If you're interested in viewing more of McNutt's work, check out: