‘Wood’ you like to join? The sculpture club is looking for members (5 photos)

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The Collingwood Chippers meet Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Leisure Time Club and welcome members over 50

A group of local carpenters have carved out a place for themselves, but are always open to welcoming new members.

The Collingwood Chippers – who meet every Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Collingwood Leisure Time Club – is a 50-plus member club comprising around 15 members with skills ranging from newbies to world champions in the carving scene on wood.

While COVID-19 suspended club meetings for two years, it is now back to in-person meetings and looking for more members to join to cut down on their time.

Winston Smith is a Wasaga Beach resident who is a former member of the club and returns from time to time to offer advice and guidance and show off his carvings.

“I like to meet and get together for coffee and a chat. When you get older, you realize that’s important,” Smith said.

The world champion carver competed in the Ward World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition in Ocean City, Maryland in 2014 and won three first place finishes and a second place finish. He also holds national titles in the art.

“I retired in 2005. In 2006 I went to Midland. I walked past a little shack and looked inside, and there was a bunch of guys in there chopping with knives, so I went in to see what was going on,” Smith said. “I bought a knife and started chipping. I guess the rest is history.

Smith grew up in Newfoundland, but these days he spends time carving birds of prey.

“Hawks and owls. I find them very interesting when you look at them. It’s kind of like they’re looking into your soul when they’re looking at you,” he said. “I used to study them when I was a kid in Newfoundland.”

Last Tuesday, club member Tom Sudak brought his grandson, Taylor, who was from Saskatchewan, with him to the club.

Sudak has been with the club for about five years, minus the two lost to COVID-19.

“I had retired. When you’re retired, the worst thing you can do is do nothing. It was kind of like an extra step from my painting,” he said.

“The only thing I have to do now is be good at it. I learn from people here because they have a ton of experience. We learn from each other.

Sudak says the craft is positive for those who are artistic and would like to try something new but don’t want to spend a lot of money to get started. He says he enjoys carving birds, but he also does relief carvings and wood burning.

“I would like to reach Winston’s level in the next 20 years,” he said.

Eleanor Burke has been with the club since 1996.

“There was quite a large group at that time. It was quite new,” she said. “The elderly are no longer with us.

Burke says there are benefits to joining the club that some may not consider.

“We get the gossip from everywhere,” she said with a laugh. “Besides woodcarving, we are the hot air club. Which club is not?

For more information on the Collingwood Leisure Time Club and how to join and participate in one of their activities, visit their website here.

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