Craig Bakay | Feb 21, 2018
Over the past 15 years, the custom animal carvings of Robin Deruchie have begun showing up at cottages and northern locations all across Ontario. He’s done demonstrations from Sarnia to Ottawa to Timmins.
One park near Sarnia has 32 of his works spread throughout the park.
Last Saturday, he was in Arden for the Frontenac Heritage Festival, a gig he’s done several times before.
Many of his creations come to life at Wolf Creek Carvings, his studio/home in the Cloyne area, but he always draws a crowd at events, perhaps because he seems to be enjoying himself when he’s taking a chainsaw to a log.
“Well, it is relaxing,” he said, taking a break from the owl he’s been working on. “I also do some fine-detailed carving, mostly on birds of prey like hawks and owls, which are my favourite subjects.”
The public seems to like his owls too, along with bears and strangely enough — turtles.
“I’m sold out of turtles today,” he said.
Deruchie has always had a passion for art and wildlife, having painted as a boy. But he sort of found his life’s calling somewhat by accident.
“I stumbled across it while building a house on Skootamata Lake,” he said. “I just started fooling around with it.”
He said he’s probably done more bears than anything but that’s probably because he can do them quickly and they sell well.
But while he estimates he’s done close to 5,000 (about 250 to 300 per year) carvings in his career, he maintains each one is different and that helps keep him going.
“I don’t work from drawings,” he said. “I let the wood dictate what the end result will be.
“I may say ‘I’m going to do a bear but the pose, and the variety the facial expressions, will all come from the individual piece of wood.
“If you draw them first, they tend to be all the same.”
Deruchie likes to work in walnut but that can be hard to come by, so the majority of his works are pine. That also works well with his personal philosophy.
“I tend to work with the community,” he said. “If somebody wants a tree taken down, I’ll do it in return for the wood and I’ll likely leave them a little carving as a token of appreciation.
“I’m not going out there cutting down trees just for carvings.”
Like many artists, when he first began he was a little reluctant to give up his creations, he said. But now that he’s making a living from it, not so much.
“My wife (Jackie) has scored maybe five over the years,” he said. “But when I retire is when I’ll do pieces for our own yard.”
Deruchie’s works start at as little as $45 with most in the $100-$125 range. They’re based on size however with a two-foot bear costing as much as $250.
His website is wolfcreekcarvings.com