Skip to content

Crop circles glow in wood

Two weeks ago Roberts Creek woodworker Edmund Butler opened a show of truly unusual hand-crafted works at the WindSong Gallery in Sechelt.

Two weeks ago Roberts Creek woodworker Edmund Butler opened a show of truly unusual hand-crafted works at the WindSong Gallery in Sechelt.The sculptural pieces married two concepts of profound importance to the British-born furniture maker Ñ a love of wood and a fascination with the phenomena of crop circles, those complex symbols and patterns made of bent grain that have appeared overnight in farmers' fields, mostly in Britain.The opening night launch found visitors crowded into a tiny showroom examining the seven pieces over and over for their aesthetic qualities as much as for the mood of meditation they invoke.Butler has taken true renderings of crop circle designs, traced them carefully, then laser cut the designs into circular silhouettes like Chinese paper cutting that are then placed over a light source within his wooden sculpture. The result is a design that glows within an artwork of flowing lines. Three of the sculptures are chunky, hand-carved crucibles fashioned from yellow cedar. The light source is set in the embrace of these pieces while the silhouette sits atop the light. The other three pieces are smoother, glossier, with sleek lines and attention to form. The seventh piece is a wall hanging called Moonshadow. Also drawn from a crop circle image, it represents the shadows created on the earth during 1200 years of lunar eclipses. Butler stresses that the circle designs are exactly as they appeared in the fields; there has been no artistic editing.ÊFor those who regard crop circles as some kind of hoax, Butler's miniature versions of the designs are strong arguments against that notion. The sheer complexity of the original designs would be difficult to fake. Often the designs are comprised of hundred of compounding measurements, while some formations span over 400 metres. For example, an August 2005 crop circle in England set diamonds in the shape of a six-pointed star within a circle within a square that rests in a larger circle.Ê"Whatever makes these things in the field is making them with the precision of a laser," Butler said, after spending three days tracing a pattern from a field.This idea triggered his use of a laser to cut the wood into the delicate shapes. The laser was the only suitable tool to match the precision of the original.ÊÊÊÊÊÊButler first began to appreciate furniture making in 1985, during an 18-month apprenticeship with a London company of furniture restorers and art specialists. Previously, he had studied the use of hand tools in traditional joinery at a college founded in 1893 by The Worshipful Company of Carpenters in London. Working in a restoration shop put him in touch with antique furniture dealers and clients who showed him works of exquisite craftsmanship. Since arriving in Canada in 1989 he has made a career of designing and making furniture. His work incorporates heirloom quality finished to a fine patina: coffee tables, dining room furniture, end tables and bookcases. He's even built a timber frame barn on his property in Roberts Creek. His work has been exhibited by invitation at The Canadian Craft Museum in Vancouver and the B.C. Home Show as well as a number of other galleries.With the advent of this new idea, to reproduce crop circle designs in wood using light, Butler has become excited about the prospect of working on larger artistic pieces. He has recently located new pieces of what might have become waste wood: a chunk of elm from Vancouver and a piece of pecan wood from Roberts Creek. These will be feature pieces, created from a place of artistic expression. "I've got that in my heart," he says.ÊÊÊThe show is at WindSong Gallery on Cowrie Street in Sechelt until Nov. 14, open Monday through Saturday.