Sunday, August 14, 2011

This Week's Featured Member - Doug MacDonald

Hi, my name is Doug MacDonald and I'm the man behind the tools at BeauWood Boxes, on Etsy.  Physically, my home and shop are in beautiful Victoria B.C. on Vancouver Island.  Woodworking has been part of my life since my dad began teaching me the basics in Ontario.  It's never been my "career"; always a hobby or a sideline.  Increasingly, I have found I need to do something concrete with my hands...often as a balance for over-cerebral work in the computer and journalism industries.  I've done everything from log building to finishing carpentry.  At one time or another I've explored other media--pottery, blacksmithing--but always return to wood.

I started making boxes about three years ago when I found some startlingly deep-figured mahogany.  And I've never looked back.  In the past year, I began to feel I had worked out the new (for me) techniques and skills at least enough to begin thinking about selling my work.



Since our garage was in serious need of repair, I decided to turn it into my shop.  And it's a wonderful place to be: right now summer roses are blooming outside the window.  I've slowly collected the hand tools I need for this work and more and more, I prefer the quiet, meditative scrape and whir of a hand plane to the roar of a table saw.  I love exotic woods--mahogany, cocobolo, bocote--anything that's not environmentally threatened (ebony, for example).  Recently, I've been more enticed by local woods, especially big leaf maple; I found a source of beautifully-spalted maple from the Cowichan Lake area.  Red cedar is another new material for me.  Each new type of wood has its beauties and challenges to work with. 

Finishing is another new and endless adventure.  The choices of oils, varnishes, stains, dyes, waxes, shellacs and more is a lifetime study!  I have slowly developed my own techniques and formulas.

Etsy has been slow for me.  Recently, Eclectic Gallery has agreed to display my work, for which I am very grateful.  And I'm excited to say that the gift shop at the Greater Victoria Art Gallery has just now agreed to feature my boxes as well.

As for the future, I've recently taken on a new contract in "real life" so I don't know how much time I'll have to spend in my shop; but I always have two or three pieces in the works.  My goal is to continue exploring what it means to be a box.  And to honor the precious materials I work with.  For example, on my workbench is evolving a box I'm going to call "The Galaxy" (I've recently started naming my boxes).  This is due to the swirling pattern in the maple sides.  My unconscious is wrestling with what sort of handle will develop over the knotted "black hole" in the lid. 

Thanks for listening to my story.  A few pieces I am proud of...

Doug MacDonald
BeauWood Boxes

(Interview conducted and published by Micki Findlay - A Vancouver Island Etsy Team Leader.  Micki's shops on Etsy are A2Sea Creations and A2Sea Photography )

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