Along with 5 other people as well as our instructor Lloyd, I spent eight hours at the Lee Valley Toronto East store in late June starting to carve a four foot high totem pole out of an eastern white cedar log. Although the cedar is eastern, all the traditions we are following are those of the First Nations of the north-west coast of North America. Here is a photo of my log:
The log is resting on a jig attached to one of my old Workmate benches.
The first order of business was to select two of the many options for totems to carve into the pole. I chose two that are quite representative of the Lake Pivabiska region because the pole’s home will be on Pellow’s Island.
Beaver –Skilled leader in industry and construction who strives for peace but will fight if he has to, Creative, artistic, and determined. Know to dig underground tunnels that cause earthquakes and landslides.
Raven –One of most important spirits, she/he is the trickster and is credited with bringing mankind to the world. Symbolizes creation, knowledge, is ever hungry, ever curious, deviant, compulsive, crooked, deceptive, but somehow always likeable.
I also chose to carve the Raven carrying the moon in her beak both because that is one of the legends I like and because of the great views we get of the moon rising over the lake at Pivabiska.
By tradition, a bird is always higher on the pole than an animal.
Here are then two patterns that I chose:
The first step was to draw a grid onto the best side of the log:
Then, I drew portions of the two patterns onto the log:
Finally, it was time to start the rough carving:
All the work today was done with a small hatchet and a rubber mallet.
Here is photo taken a few hours and several chips later:
Here is my log as it was at the end of day 1: