The Southern Alberta Woodworkers Society (SAWS) is hosting its biannual exhibition at Calgary’s Southcentre Mall next month, featuring 65 pieces from 34 makers.
Participants spend hundreds of hours crafting furniture and other items for the 10-day event.
Bill Maniotakis, a member of SAWS for 16 years, says the society has almost 100 members.
“Inspiration comes from other people,” he said.
“Because basically, everything’s been made before, so we use our spin on things to create something and when you create something unique using your own artistic, hidden talents, then it’s even better.”
Maniotakis says he found more time to work on wood when his children grew up.
He started by making boxes and gravitated to designing and building furniture.
“So I’ve made most of the furniture in our house, in terms of tables and benches and things like that,” he said.
“My boys certainly have lots of my work.”
Maniotakis has an extensive wood reserve in his shop behind his southeast home.
He uses a variety of species for different projects but enjoys working with walnut.
“The way it works, the way it planes, the way it cuts, it doesn’t splinter,” he said.
“You can’t go wrong building something out of walnut.”
SAWS is also celebrating its 40th anniversary.
It was first started as a way to bring together people from all levels of the woodworking community in a social and learning environment.
Darrel Aunger joined the club a year ago because he wanted to learn all he could about working with wood.
“I was looking for a community and most of my other friends aren’t really into woodworking,” he said.
“I love to continuously learn and it’s a very generous community. People share their time and experience and we have a number of members who actually have put on courses — short courses on various aspects.”
The exhibit is a way to celebrate the tradition of woodworking and is now recognized as the top woodworking exhibition in Western Canada with incredible craftsmanship, artistry and creativity.
Entries are open to any resident of Canada and cover a broad range from functional to simply artistic, furniture to fine wood turnings and artwork.
Aunger says SAWS celebrates the talents of local makers and craftsmen.
“You don’t need experience as a woodworker to join. It’s purely out of interest and passion,” Aunger said.
“People who are aspiring, who want to learn, it’s a great environment. I look at my evolution over the last, say the last three to four years, and what I’m doing now versus what I was doing when I first started … it’s unbelievably different.”
Calgarians will have the opportunity to get up close and personal to view or even purchase the unique items on display at this free exhibition from Sept. 1 to 10 at Southcentre Mall.
You can learn more about SAWS at saws.ca.
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