Looking for a uniquely Similkameen last minute Christmas gift?
Earl Martin and Noni Finch might be able to help you out. The couple recently began manufacturing and selling wood and soapstone carvings out of the former Similkameen Steel Works shop on Highway 3 just east of Keremeos.
The wood carvings vary widely in size and material.
“We use a little bit of everything,” Earl said of the wood types he selects for carvings. In front of the shop is a roughly three metre high douglas fir log that Earl has begun to carve into a bear. The impressive carving has caught the eye of the Westbank Indian Band, who will be purchasing the finished product.
Earl has been carving since he was in high school. Watching him work, one can see the natural affinity he has for the craft. More recently he has moved into soapstone as a medium for his work.
“It’s new for me,” he explained, “the internet can be a very useful tool. I ‘ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos on the subject, and learning how to use the tools.”
Earl and Noni live in Hope and traditionally sell their work on the coast. They also market through a store at Harrison Hot Springs.
The couple began carving out of the vacant building about a month ago. Previously, Earl had used the former Crossroads Restaurant property as a retail outlet, but is not yet firmly anchored with a retail outlet in the Similkameen.
“We’re busy on the coast,” Earl admits; the couple are also in the midst of building a website.
Most of the products used in Earl and Noni’s work is sourced locally, including the soapstone. Earl’s large bear carving is made from a douglas fir sourced out of the Nickle Plate area.
A constantly changing inventory is available for viewing and purchase at the shop. The carving duo can usually be found from 10 a.m. t o 10 p.m most days. It’s well worth the trip if you’re looking for something uniquely one of a kind – in addition to being made in the Similkameen.