Kamloops forester creates art from trees burned in indoor wildfires | infonews

Kamloops resident Casey Macauley turns wood burned from the Tremont Creek and White Rock Lake wildfires into art.

Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Casey Macauley

06 March 2022 – 07:04

Equipped with engraving tools and a knowledge of block printing, a Kamloops man salvages wood left over from forest fires and turns it into art.

Casey Macauley is a lifelong forester who decided to harvest the burnt wood left over from the Tremont Creek and White Rock Lake wildfires this summer because he saw an opportunity.

“I had noticed that other artists had done these prints and thought I’d really like to try this,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking so much about the story of it all, I was thinking more about making art, and then once I started going on social media a bit and spreading it out in the community, it seemed that people really identified with the art that came out of the ashes of those fires, so to speak.

READ MORE: Millions of dollars in funding for the BC Wildfire Service draws mixed reactions from experts

To create the impressions, Macauley will first harvest discs of wood, then plane and sand them, before engraving them to expose the various ring patterns inside the wood. The discs can then be used for printing, similar to block burning, he said.

Multiple discs can be used for the same prints before the block begins to fill up.

“I had to re-prep all the blocks for printing to re-expose the rings,” he said.

Macauley can spend up to two hours preparing the disc and even more time finding the right wood in the forest. His prints were first exhibited in two cafes in Kamloops and have since become increasingly popular.

It has sold around 50 prints so far across eight blocks. During the winter season, it has been difficult to collect firewood, so he hopes to collect more this spring. Interest is coming from across British Columbia, as well as from Ontario and outside of Canada in places like Texas, South Carolina and California.

Many customers in the Thompson-Okanagan area request the prints because they have a connection to the wildfires.

READ MORE: Kamloops Fire Center sees record number of acres burned this year

“They’ll say ‘my house was almost lost last year’ or ‘my brother was a firefighter…’ all have that story from last year and they see this art as a way to enshrine or commemorate that season. People buy them as gifts for those affected by wildfire season,” Macauley said.

“Art starts a conversation,” he said. “I’ve been in forestry in British Columbia all my life…so anytime people go out and see something in the wild, or even the fires that happen themselves, they’re all great ways to help. ‘Having conversations about the natural systems that surround us in.’

READ MORE: British Columbia is now well into its third worst wildfire season in 18 years

In the past he has done woodcarving and other household projects, but it wasn’t until he linked his interest in woodworking with the artist print process that his side project became a side hustle.

“It just seemed like the perfect marriage of interest. With the connection to the forest and the storytelling, all of those things came together and it felt like the right pursuit for who I am,” he said.

To get in touch with Macauley, visit his Instagram page here.

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Betty K. Park