This stone bear by Qualicum Beach carver Del Mark is an example of the kind of work he’ll be bringing to the Original Village Christmas Arts Faire taking place in Qualicum Beach from Nov. 17-19. — Submitted by Del Mark

Hours and hours to get animals from rock

Qualicum Beach stone carver one of the artists taking part in Village Christmas Arts Faire

There will be glass bead makers, potters, silversmiths, woodworkers, painters and many other artists when the 38th Original Village Christmas Arts Faire returns to Qualicum Beach from Nov. 17-19.

Del Mark will be one of them.

He’s tried various genres of art in his spare time over the years, but about 18 years ago he finally determined what kind of artist he was.

“I’ve dabbled in painting and pottery and all kinds of things during the spare time in my lifetime… but when I started the stone carving… I think it’s the three-dimensional, realistic look of the wildlife when it’s finished is what really drew me to stone carving.”

An outdoor enthusiast, Mark applied years of studying animals to his work, and wild animals make up the vast majority of his carvings.

They include everything from bears to owls to herons, fish, whales and more.

Asked about his process, Mark said the work is tedious, requiring hours of work, even just to sand his carvings to a smooth finish.

Using field stone, most of which he said comes from South America, Mark first carves a relief on one side of the stone, and then just keeps at it, he said.

“I use power tools to rough a shape, and then it’s all hand files, rifflers. It’s a lot of hand work after I get my original form. There’s hours and hours of hand work.”

Then he steps from 40-grit sandpaper down to 600-grit wet sanding.

Despite the time investment, Mark said just how any sculpture will turn out is a surprise.

While he said he doesn’t claim to see something in the raw stone before he gets to work, like some carvers do, he said he doesn’t do too much planning, and just keeps working until the carving looks realistic enough for him.

The colour of the carving is usually a mystery until it’s finished, as well.

“It’s like throwing a stone in the water,” he said, saying that the raw stone often starts as a dullish grey, but can end up being white, brown, green or black. Some may have speckles or stripes.

Mark has been a part of the Original Village Christmas Arts Faire for 16 years, and said it’s a fun, friendly event full of artists. It’s also the only big show the Qualicum Beach carver attends every year.

The arts faire takes place Friday and Saturday, Nov. 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Community Hall (644 Memorial Ave.). Admission is free.

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