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 starting 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.

 

Just Posted

Campbell River fruit tree project carries on despite pandemic

More volunteers wanted for Greenways’ gleaning initiative

Victoria man charged in stabbing death of Vancouver overdose prevention worker

Maximus Roland Hayes, 23, is facing one count of manslaughter in connection to the killing

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs Vancouver Island man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Langford theft investigation leads to national crime ring

More than $250,000 in stolen goods recovered, $67,000 in cash seized

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Devil’s Hand Poker Run in Campbell River to face RCMP scrutiny

The Campbell River RCMP will be keeping a close eye on the… Continue reading

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Hundreds of sea lions to be killed on Columbia River in effort to save endangered fish

Nearly 22,000 comments received during public review were opposed, fewer than 200 were for

Most Read