Tofino artist and carver Keith PlumleyTofino Artist Keith Plumley

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Keith Plumley moved to Tofino in Clayoquot Sound in 1990 from Ontario where he had already been painting, woodcarving and wood turning for 15 years. He arrived with his antique lathe originally used at a sawmill in the 1930’s.

When Keith’s passionate and creative spirit met with the awe inspiring spirit of Clayoquot Sound’s old growth forests, he evolved his wood turning skills and modified his lathe to be able to create larger turned works, up to 3 feet across. He wanted his work to suggest the monumental size and spirit of these ancient trees. Keith now works on a lathe that can work with pieces up to 6 feet across.

Keith usually chooses burls to work with. Burls are knotty growths that grow on the sides of trees. They are not used in the lumber industry so they are cut off the trees where they are cut down and left behind, usually in very inaccessible areas. Keith has found burls eight feet across from trees that must have been several hundreds years old. Burls often contain swirling grains, sometimes ‘birds-eye’ markings and often ‘light rays,’ a stretch mark that catches the light in a shifting, iridescent way.

Keith makes bowls, platters and art pieces of all shapes and sizes but he is most known for his very large pieces. Large feast platters and bowls of Keith’s are suitable for buffets at restaurants and homes. Wall pieces have a strong presence hanging in corporate centres, private businesses, galleries, and homes. He usually works with red cedar and yellow cedar, sometimes maple, hemlock, spruce, or pine.

Some pieces are symmetrically turned on the lathe and some pieces have the bark and natural edges and shape of the burl.