On Wednesday, October 18, a blessing took place in the Ko’jua Okuom at the Killam Library for the recently completed hand-crafted table created by Jim and Cheryl Walsh.
The bench-style, wood slab table was designed and constructed by Jim and Cheryl, who worked with raw materials from their own saw mill. They inlaid items in memory of past elders into the many natural crevices and contours, honouring and memorializing them into the wood slabs. It was a labour of love for Jim and Cheryl, and their dedication to the project is apparent in all its intricacies and details.
“This bench-style table was lovingly and painstakingly worked from raw materials cut with our saw mill, flattened using a router and router sled, and hand-sanded with an orbital sander using 40-grit sandpaper going up to 3000 grit. Then many items were epoxyed into the natural crevices in the wood. These items reflect the lives of past elders, immortalized into the wood slabs.
Knowing the depths of the honour they bestowed for the white birch tree, we could start with no other base. Some locally sourced items were meticulously layered into the wood: a feather, porcupine quills, pebbles from Partridge Island, a variety of shells, sweetgrass, and other stones and crystals.
The lightning figures were burnt into the wood to create the patterns using a tool known as a Lichtenberg wood burner. Here 10,000 volts of electricity travels from probe to probe, determining the path the figure takes. Research on Mi’kmaq Petroglyphs determined the symbols used. Then a storyline was wood-burnt along the Lichtenberg figures on each side of the table.
The painstaking process of protecting the wood with seven coats of polyurethane was next. Once the table was assembled, it was worked on tirelessly to ensure such a heavy object as this hardwood table with cast iron legs remains solid and sturdy. Many add-ons were added to ensure the table’s structural integrity. As we were working on the middle section of the table, we both saw a Mother Crane and under her is a faint image of a baby crane… all in the natural fibers of the wood.
This truly was a labour of love. We both were thrilled to have the opportunity to do such a project which reflects our love and appreciation for all the elders, current and past. I personally leaned into their support for the artistic component of this project. We do home to make them proud and bless all that sit around her. Wela’lin”
– Jim and Cheryl Walsh
Featured in the above photo: Nancy Melvin, Susan Hagen, Nellie Renzelli, Florence Walsh, Catherine Martin, Jim and Cheryl Walsh, Elaine MacInnis, Samantha Adema, Sarah and Malachi Knowles, Sandra Dwyer, and Michael Vandenburg.