99 Foster Drive Sault Ste. Marie, Canada
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Pat Caldwell

Education and a young family required much of my time as a young adult. Even so I was interested in photography, sketching and wood working. The edges of my school notes were full of drawings. In later years these doodles centered on wildlife and nature cultivated by my work as a senior wetlands and waterfowl scientist. 

But since retirement and moving to SSM I have allowed these interests to come forward again.  I have a strong desire to stay connected with nature on many levels.  I appreciate the howling of wolves, the cardinals chirping call, moose and  snowshoe hair tracks in the snow and the haunting stillness of heavy foggy over a sea of cattail and bulrush. Living adjacent to a Conservation Area behind my house allows a connection to the natural world I crave.  Look up, up at the heavily snow laden white pine or spruce bows or the autumn golden leaves of the popular against a deep blue of the sky, it is inspiring.

Life is good in retirement and I am making the best of it. My current endeavor in art includes photography, pencil sketching, ceramics and wood working. I enjoy works in which I can combine two or more of these mediums. Wood working centers on designing and making oval boxes with North American hard woods.  The challenge comes from finding species of hard wood that will bend after a hot water bath without cracking. I look for natural designs in the woods and use it to accent the top of the oval boxes for a beautiful display of natures’ art. Or I might wood burn a creation of my own.  There's a satisfaction in working with my hands to create a beautiful piece of art that can be functionally useful as well.

Oval Box Statement

Wood is a diverse renewable resource. It comes in many colours with a wide range of structural attributes and beautiful patterns. Eastern North America is particularly fortunate to have a wide variety of hardwood species available. For the artist woodworker, it offers nearly unlimited opportunities for creating unique pieces of art. Oval Boxes are one form.

Oval boxes or Shaker boxes were first made by the Shaker community in the early 1800s. Theirs was initially a utilitarian purpose, containers. Tin and glass containers eventually replace wood and the craft of oval box making was nearly lost. Thanks to John Wilson and others the craft has been revived and expanded in both size and use, including art.

With purchase of box making materials from US or Canada suppliers, oval boxes can be made in a small basement or garage shop. Equipped with small electric drill, small belt disc sander, scroll saw, a few clamps, a length of galvanized eve trough, hot plate, and sharp knife, the week end woodworker can make oval boxes.  Add a small table saw and she or he can make their own bands and their own bending cores and shapers.

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Support and Resources

City of Sault Ste. Marie Art Gallery of AlgomaSault Area Arts Council  Northern Ontario Arts Association Arts Council of Sault Ste Marie