Westholme woodworker carves a niche with his talents

Westholme woodworker carves a niche with his talents

Fairy houses, birdhouses and even wands are among his specialty items

Joey Fortin is a wizard in his Westholme Wonder Works workshop, creating whimsical and wonderful items from ordinary pieces of reclaimed or recycled wood.

Like Santa’s workshop, Fortin’s been extra busy the last several weeks preparing for the holiday season, making sure there’s a large enough stock to handle the demand from the numerous Christmas markets he’s attended.

Seeing is believing with his art and regulars to the Duncan Farmer’s Market know all about it.

“He is an amazingly talented carver and woodworker with a style I’ve never seen before,” noted friend and Farmer’s Market vendor Shannon Peck.

“Joey can take a wheelbarrow full of wood and turn it into incredible art.”

Fortin, 61, who was born in Duncan and lived in Westholme 27 years, comes by his talents naturally.

“The first thing I used to do is make fairy houses when I was 6-7 years old,” he explained.

“I built boats when I was nine and 10, and I drew a little bit.”

Fortin is actually colourblind so he doesn’t see the complete beauty in his art that the beholder does. That always caused him problems in school art classes.

“I can only see three colours in a rainbow – blue, white and yellow,” he indicated. “I don’t even know if it’s white to be truthful.”

Fortin doesn’t pick up the differences at all when colours are blended.

It’s all a very ironic scenario to his talents and hasn’t hindered him in the least. In fact, Fortin even once worked as a paint salesman in a hardware store, learning how to read people to determine if the colours were right rather than necessarily relying on the exact mix.

“People were wanting to come back to me all the time because I was doing perfect colour combinations for them,” he noted.

Fortin was always carving in his spare time and went into landscaping for a while, as he continually sought an occupation that suited him.

“I need to be stimulated,” he pointed out. “I get really bored.

“Every time I built something, I would do a signature carving – on a barn, a fence or a house.”

Fortin started setting up as a vendor in Chemainus seven years ago during the regular Wednesday markets. A friend wanted him to build a birdhouse and his crafty products soon captured the imagination of people.

“I got asked to make a fairy house, I got commissioned to build a mushroom house,” Fortin explained. “It took off from there.”

Magic wands are even in his repertoire of creations, but not like the Harry Potter type, he said.

“I still make magic wands. It has to come from my heart and spirit.

“There’s always love in the work I do. The desire calls me. (The wands) have to fit very comfortably in your hand. It’s not a stick with a jewel in it.”

Fortin said he gets little hints about what types of birdhouses to make. His teardrop style is especially popular.

Fortin actually started Westholme Wonder Works as a handyman service in 1991 before moving in a different direction, but staying put. He no longer attends the Chemainus market, but has become a mainstay in Duncan Saturdays and Cedar Sundays.

“You become family,” Fortin pointed out. “A lot of these vendors I blend with in other markets.”

He’s also the music director for both markets.

It’s naturally been hectic at markets around the Island leading up to Christmas. Fortin set up during November at the Kris Kringle Craft Fair in Nanaimo, the Winter Fest in Qualicum and a Touch of Salt Spring that’s actually held in Sidney/North Saanich in addition to his regular spots.

His holiday crafts even include mangers. “A lot of my stuff works really well for nativity,” Fortin pointed out.

And then there’s the Christmas trees in the style of Tim Burton or Dr. Seuss depending on your point of view. “I love animation,” he said.

With that, like Santa, Fortin goes back to his workshop to carve out some more holiday magic.

 

Westholme woodworker carves a niche with his talents

Just Posted

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate and valedictorian Chayla Pollock receives her certificate from principal Lori Hryniuk. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Valedictorian Pollock’s address to the Class of 2021

Different kind of setting in a classroom for the traditional presentation

Chemainus Secondary School 2021 graduate Nina Bumstead. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Grad ceremony proceeds, with a twist

Red carpet outside works out well for Chemainus Secondary’s Class of 2021

The Crofton trailer park home where the bodies of two people were found. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Mom still waiting for answers after daughter and her fiance found dead in Crofton

Pair discovered dead in their Crofton home in May identified as Rachel Gardner and Paul Jenkins

Chemainus street signs now contain Hul’qumi’num translations, like this one at the corner of Willow and Legion Streets. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Street signs go up in the Hul’qumi’num language

Chemainus intersections feature direct translations

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

A person stands in a tower on the perimeter of the Number 3 Detention Center in Dabancheng in western China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on April 23, 2021. Human rights groups and Western nations led by the United States, Britain and Germany accused China of massive crimes against the Uyghur minority and demanded unimpeded access for U.N. experts at a virtual meeting on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 denounced by China as “politically motivated” and based on “lies.” THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Mark Schiefelbein
VIDEO: Trudeau demands truth from China about Uyghurs

PM says Canada has admitted broken Indigenous relationship, unlike China on Uyghurs

Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran, middle right, participates in a ribbon-cutting ceremony in honour of the launch of Kelowna’s plasma donor centre at Orchard Plaza Mall on June 22. From left to right: Canadian Blood Services’ business development manager Janna Pantella, Canadian Blood Services’ operational excellence manager Tyler Burke, Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran and Canadian Blood Services’ centre manager Janine Johns. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
B.C.’s first dedicated plasma donor centre opens in Kelowna

The Kelowna location is the third dedicated plasma donor to open in Canada

Children walk with their parents to Sherwood Park Elementary in North Vancouver for the first day back to school on Sept. 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Study reassures parents, teachers that COVID-19 infrequently shared at school

Federally funded study in Vancouver finds risk in the classroom and in the community identical

Conservative MP Kevin Waugh rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday April 13, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Single-game sports betting about to become legal in Canada

Senate passes bill to take sports gambling away from overseas agencies

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Point Roberts is part of the mainland United States but not physically connected to it, to reach the community by land one must pass through Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Closed Canadian border leaves Point Roberts’ only grocery store on verge of closure

‘We’re Americans but we’re not attached to America. It’s easy to forget we’re here,’ says owner Ali Hayton

The Somass Sawmill sits idle in early May 2021. While the kilns have been in use occasionally, and the lot has been used to store woodchips this spring, the mill has been curtailed since July 27, 2017. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Port Alberni to expropriate Somass Sawmill from Western Forest Products

Sawmill has been ‘indefinitely’ curtailed since 2017

Robin Sanford and her fiance Simon Park were married in an impromptu ceremony at Abbotsford Regional Hospital on June 16. (Submitted photo)
Mom dies day after witnessing daughter’s hospital wedding in Abbotsford

Nurses help arrange impromptu ceremony in 3 hours for bride and groom

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson with Premier John Horgan after the budget speech Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. home owner grant won’t be altered, despite expert advice

Tax break for residences worth up to $1.6 million too popular

Most Read