Liam Tromans is carving out a great life in British Columbia — with his chainsaw.
The Nova Scotian moved to Chemainus late last year where he’s continued his passion for carving animals out of wood and selling them for everyone to enjoy.
“This was always part-time, but then three years ago I gave up logging to pursue this full-time. So now I create art instead of clearcut so I’m happy about that,” said Tromans, who has 30 years experience as a logger back east.
“My wife has been here for two years working, and I came to visit her last winter to spend the winter and just liked it so much we bought a house here,” Tromans added, pointing out finishing touches he was making to a howling wolf on the driveway outside his workshop.
“Where I grew up back east there was nobody carving around that area. But I did see my local chainsaw shop gave me a magazine once from the states and it had articles on some people carving. That’s the first time I saw that and I thought ‘I’m gonna try that’,” Tromans recalled.
Eagles, wolves and bears form the basis of his WoodWork Art business, although he’s also open to commissions and new ideas, and has made everything from wizards to trolls to dragons.
“If I had a commission I’d love to do more of that,” Tromans said, noting he’s recently begun making wooden boot planters and has an order coming in for a pair of cowboy boot planters. He is also able to carve animals into stumps on people’s property.
Tromans looks forward to meeting more carvers locally and has worked in the past with Port Alberni carver Cecil Dawson of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation. Tromans’s carvings start at around $50 and range into the hundreds of dollars and higher for larger more ornate pieces such as large eagles and grizzly bears.
The process begins with an idea, usually from a photo or figurine. Tromans then sketches it out and gets to work by picking a big piece of wood and a heavy-duty chainsaw.
“I’ll rough it out with that, so it’s fairly quick, and then I go down to a 60-70 cc saw to do some more work, and then as the detail gets finer I go smaller with the chain size,” Tromans explained, adding that although usually in logging you try not to use the tip of the saw or back cut towards yourself certain chains work well for carving that don’t kick back as much, as long as you keep a firm grip.
“Follow the rules pretty much and try to keep the saw at a right angle to your body when you’re cutting as much as possible,” Tromans said. “I block it out and leave lots of room making it kind of big and heavy and then I just take it off ‘til it looks right and feels right.”
Tromans gets most of his wood from Mike Gogo’s mill in Nanaimo and occasionally comes across wood to work with in spontaneous ways.
“A gentleman had a tree fell down in his yard. He had a stump and I carved a couple bears in the stump for him and he gave me the rest of the tree,” Tromans explained.
He uses mainly red and yellow cedar although he’s also worked in various other woods such as pine, maple and spruce. Occasional knots and deformities often add to the character of a critter. Pieces are then finished with a lacquer, paint, left natural, or scorched lightly to give a rugged appearance.
Tromans, who has won several large chainsaw carving championships, did demonstrations and showed his work at the Islands Agriculture Show last weekend. He also carves Sundays from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the North Oyster Community Centre in Ladysmith. Tromans sells his work from his home on Chemainus Road and also has several pieces on consignment at various local stores.
To contact Tromans or find out more about his work call him at 250-324-4828.