On a wet Friday afternoon in Prince Rupert Trevor Richard is working hard in his workshop.
The subtle, sweet smell of cedar fills the space as Richard hunches over a platform he is using to sand one of his jewelry boxes.
The wooden box scratches gently as Richard pushes and pulls it back and forth along the rough surface. It’s an antiquated method of smoothing a surface, but one he likes just fine.
“This is old school right here,” he said with a smile. “I prefer to do it this way. You get better fit when you do it like this with no gaps.”
To the casual observer, Richard’s pieces may appear to be beautiful, but for him, the process and purpose of creating jewelry boxes, Aboriginal flutes and other traditional pieces has given him a purpose he could not live without.
His workshop, an eclectic mix of tools, finished pieces and untouched wood, is a reflection of him. Richard is a man in constant motion, his hands and arms constantly waving at something or illustrating a point.
It is only when he is cutting, sanding or joining that all of that energy comes into focus.
“This is just therapy for me,” he said.
Richard said he grew up breathing sawdust. The 49-year-old was born in Calgary, but moved to Victoria where his stepfather, a woodworker, had a workshop where he would work on small projects.
“I’d alter the shape of my skateboard or go in with other random things,” he said “My step dad always opened the doors and that was kind of a way for us to bond and connect at a time when we weren’t that close.”
He said is first experience carving something out of wood was working on Cub Scout cars. Richard, who was nine at the time, was given a block of wood, some nails, some plastic wheels and had to figure out how to build something that would go in a straight line.
Working without instruction, Richard was able to cobble together a small car, which he admits was hardly the work of a master craftsman.
“It was crooked and lopsided and it rolled funny,” he said.
Even though it was not his best work, Richard said the process of building the car held his attention in a way nothing had until that point.
“I just remember my tongue was hanging over sideways, and I was deep in focus,” he said.
Life and other difficult circumstances took Richard away from his passion, but he rediscovered it after moving to Prince Rupert in 2015.
He originally moved to the North Coast to start a pizza shop with a friend, but after differences of philosophy separated them, he returned to his artistic passion while doing small repairs on people’s homes in the community.
It was chance and the help of a friend that allowed him to open his own workshop.
“An old friend of mine from Victoria sent me some tattoo equipment, which I was able to exchange here for carpenter’s tools,” Richard said. “It blew me away. I didn’t sleep at all that night because I was so excited.”
With his energy returned to creating wood pieces, Richard reached out using social media to find people he could create pieces for. His first opportunity to build something was for a wood carver in the city.
“I was so nervous when he came to pick it up,” Richard said. “I could see all of the little things I wasn’t happy with, but he liked it and that felt really good.”
Richard said he intends to keep developing his art for a long as he can. He has a stock of old growth cedar he said will keep him occupied and creative for years to come.
Richard said he also hopes to create a maker-space for other woodworker and carpenters to come, work on projects and share ideas together.
“I was lucky to be exposed to, you know, create a process with wood as youngster,” Richard said. “It would be really cool to pass it on.”
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Matthew Allen | Reporter
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