Aivars Logins is back in his studio after a hiatus.

Bringing ancient wood back to life

Beneath the Bark runs for two months

Aivars Logins is one happy man. He’s back in his studio creating. Best known for his burl vessels and sculptures, Logins has picked up his tools after a hiatus of three years.

He is currently working on a piece of 800-year-old burl which washed up on the beach at 10 Mile Point. He hired a tug to drag it off the beach to Sidney, where he hired a large car carrier with a tilt deck to transport the behemoth to his yard along West Coast Road.

That piece of burl is getting his creative juices running and he speaks of the sculpture with an honest sense of wonder.

“It’s a rarity, the age of the burl. It’s extremely rare to work on a burl that is 800-years-old and still around,” he said.”It was expensive getting it here but it was worth it.”

The piece is sensuous and solid, fluid and rich in texture and grain. The tails of the whales are slowly emerging from the wood and Logins said it will become a whale family. The silky smoothness is acquired only through a lot of sanding, some by hand and the rest by machine. Part of the burl is becoming the sculpture, the remainder was cut into seven four foot long, three-inch thick table tops.

Logins’ studio is full of the scent of wood, both finished and unfinished. It smells of the West Coast and the forests. The small sign on the road at the bottom of his driveway has attracted many clients to his door. He made a bunch of burl bowls for actress Isabella Rossellini for her to give away at her Christmas party in New York. A couple of weeks ago her daughter Elletra Rossellini Weidemann (the top model for Lancome) was at his studio. Logins is building her a chair for her apartment in New York. The Weidemann family has a home in the area of Point no Point and this connection has brought a lot of people to Logins’ studio door, including Penny, the wife of the director of the original film “Cape Fear.” John Lee Thompson who died in Sooke in 2002.

Logins isn’t one to drop names, he only mentioned those folks because he was asked. He’s modest about his work and remains enamored by and respectful of his raw materials.

“All of my wood is from between Jordan River and Port Renfrew, basically it’s logging scrap. My buddies in the logging industry keep me in mind and bring it to me.”

He shows me a large Western red cedar bowl/vessel with an amazing grain and shape which still breathes life. He knows it to be 400-years-old because he took the time to count the rings.

Logins has been in the Sooke area for 33 years and he has made his living from his sculpture for the past 20 years. He arrived to the area from Hamilton, Ontario on a motorcycle and when it broke down he just stayed.

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “I’ve been kept pretty busy.”

Many of his customers and clients are from the U.S. and Germany and they find him as they are driving by along West Coast Road.

Logins has just finished building a new home, he had some medical issues to deal with and now he’s back spending time doing what he loves – putting life back into wood.

Logins will be joining three other woodworkers for “Beneath the Bark” a show at the Sooke Harbour House. Merlayna Snyder is a wood sculptor from Victoria who creates freeform wood sculptures. James Atkin, from Royston, is a high relief woodcarver who creates three-dimensional images from wood. Jack Stevenson is a woodturner from Shawnigan Lake.

Beneath the Bark runs from Sept. 28 to Nov. 28. An artists’ reception will be held on Sunday, Oct. 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. with the artists in attendance.

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