Still Carving at 100

Centenarian enjoys creativity, social aspects of carving

By Kathleen Ryan

Living to be one hundred years old is quite an accomplishment by anyone’s standards. To still be doing what you love—namely carving—at that age is extraordinary. Just ask Canadian woodcarver Jack Motyer. Jack was born in Winnipeg, Mb., Canada, on January 29, 1917, making him 100 years old and counting. But he is still carving and actively involved with both the Assiniboia Wood Carvers Association and the Adanac Carvers Association.

“I’ve never met a carver I didn’t like,” Jack said with a laugh. “They are the friendliest group of people I’ve ever known. I really enjoy the social aspect of belonging to these clubs. The fellowship as well as the support that members provide is very important.”

One day in the mid-1970s, while browsing hobby books, Jack spied a wooden carved chain that intrigued him. He got a 2×2 piece of wood and a knife, and taught himself to carve a chain with balls in a cage at the end of it. While taking a carving class at a local high school, Jack met several other carvers. Together they eventually formed the Assiniboia Wood Carvers Association.

Over the past 35 years, Jack experimented with chip carving, relief carving, intarsia, and pyrography. He uses these skills to create wood spirits, animals, people, caricatures, flowers, miniatures, traditional art forms, carousel animals, and even a miniature violin. His work has earned many awards and recognitions. In 2012, Jack was the first recipient of the PCCA Service Award, which acknowledges individuals who have provided a valuable service to a local carving community over an extended period of time.

“Carving has changed so much over the years. It has become a more refined craft with better quality tools,” Jack said. “The increase of available patterns and the fantastic magazines showcasing carvings of different artists have all helped to promote and improve the art of woodcarving.”

Jack has never sold his work. Instead, he gives it away to family members as gifts. Still, hundreds of carvings decorate the two-bedroom apartment where Jack lives and works alone. The master bedroom serves as his woodshop, with all types of wood, carving tools, wood burning tools, sanding and painting equipment, and carving magazines filling every nook and cranny.

“I always have several things going on at the same time. Right now I’m working on a 20″- tall mountain man bust, a bark carving, and a new wood spirit.” Jack is not sure what the future may hold for him, but friends and family are pretty sure it will involve a carving knife.






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