Metchosin artist Detlef Grundmann works on a piece in his home workshop. He is one of 10 members of the Stinking Fish group whose home studios will be open to the public to tour through this week.

Metchosin-based artist thinks outside the box

Woodworker’s creations part of upcoming Stinking Fish Studio Tour

Chiarina Loggia

Special to the Gazette

Detlef Grundmann loves to make boxes, but not ordinary utility boxes.

His boxes are exquisite wooden creations with finely crafted design elements that literally go outside the box. Whether it is a box with legs, live edges or even knot holes, each piece is meticulously crafted to a silky smooth finish that brings out the natural beauty of the wood. Created for holding jewellery or keepsakes, or even for just admiring, each one is a unique gem.

“I see a piece of wood and it somehow speaks to me, showing me its possibilities and hidden beauty,” he says.

Grundmann brings this fine craftsmanship to all the woodworking he does, whether it is commissioned furniture, his signature display platters; even such functional pieces as cutting boards, coasters, frames and rolling pins. Inspired by both the Arts and Crafts movement and Asian design, he creates pieces with clean lines, natural shapes and traditional joinery.

He rarely applies stains to his pieces, preferring to let the natural colour and pattern of the wood shine.

“Its patterns and colour will determine the shapes and proportions of what I create with it. Beyond that, I look for negative spaces created by such things as legs, holes and shadow lines to give the pieces presence and dimensionality,” he explains. “Somehow the wood’s story and my own get intermingled into a unique and, I hope, compelling one. “

Whether finished with a foodsafe wax for his utility pieces or a harder wax/oil finish, the wood glows with the care and attention to detail he gives every piece.

Grundmann loves to work with local woods such as big leaf maple, Garry oak and arbutus, including some sourced from his property in Metchosin. Other native North American woods such as walnut, with its dark lustre, and cherry, with its warm red colour, are two other favourite woods and are often used as a contrast in his boxes and cutting boards.

This talented artist hasn’t always been a woodworker. For much of his adult life he worked in the software field in Vancouver. A decision to move to Metchosin allowed him to hone his woodworking while living in the West Coast nature he loves. It also allowed him to become part of the local, juried Stinking Fish Studio Tour, of which he has been a member for 10 years.

His studio, Pebble Woodworks, is named for a beloved cat and you’ll find his pawprint signature in many of the pieces he creates, whether on the front of his cutting boards (see inset photo) or tucked away on the underside of his furniture and boxes.

Grundmann is taking part in the Stinking Fish summer tour, which runs this year from July 21 to 25. Opening day Thursday will see many of the artists on the tour doing demonstrations. While demoing is too dusty an affair during the tour for Grundmann, he welcomes any and all queries about his work, his tools and his beautiful boxes.


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