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OneTree Project Guitars
 

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Around 1815 a Bigleaf Maple seed helicoptered into the fertile flood plane of the Chemainus River on Vancouver Island, Canada. It grew quickly, nourished by the water and spawning salmon which also nourished members of the Halalt First Nation, the only local inhabitants at the time. Over two centuries it grew to be one of the oldest and largest trees of its kind in the world, it was over 200 years old and 31 feet in circumference. 

 

Recently, it was discovered that the tree was rotting from the core and need to be taken down for safety precautions. This is where the idea was born to divide the tree up between 42 wood artisans to each create a unique masterpiece to be displayed together in the One Tree Exhibit. OneTree series, presented by the Robert Bateman Gallery in Victoria, BC, brings together woodworkers in a unified task: to craft one of a kind works using wood from a single big leaf maple.

I am very pleased to have collaborated with K’omox band First Nations artist Karver Everson on two One Tree Exhibit guitars - Emblems in 2019 and Raven in 2017. Karver meticulously designed a work of rooted in his cultural heritage which I incorporated into each front of the “One Tree” guitars. Cedar was an easy choice for the top as it also has a long history and significance in First Nations culture. Both guitars were inlayed with Yellow Cedar into a Red Cedar top and trimmed out with black Ebony.

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Emblems (2019)
 

The Raven, as told in creation stories, is mischievous and curious. It is a cultural focus of the Indigenous Northwest Coast People. 
 
"Raven was not thought of as a god. He was thought of as the transformer, the trickster. He was the being that changed things—sometimes quite by accident, sometimes on purpose."
 
—Christian White, Haida artist

The unique history which this big leaf maple carries, is combined with addressing  the connective relationship between the Indigenous peoples and the British Columbia emblems. The "Emblems"guitar brought a focus on five emblems - Western Red cedar, Bear, Jade, Salmon and the Dogwood Tree - each distinctly playing a role in indigenous peoples lives during the time that Sir Edmond Hope Varney and Charles Edward Barkley lived in the Cowichan valley.

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The Raven, as told in creation stories, is mischievous and curious. It is a cultural focus of the Indigenous Northwest Coast People. 
 
"Raven was not thought of as a god. He was thought of as the transformer, the trickster. He was the being that changed things—sometimes quite by accident, sometimes on purpose."
 
—Christian White, Haida artist

Raven (2015)
 

The Raven guitar is a small Jumbo with 25.4″ scale. It features a local Western Bigleaf Maple tree back and sides, as mentioned, paired with a Red and Yellow Cedar top. The guitar has sitka bracing, dual laminated sides for strength, carbon fibre reinforced quilted Maple neck with dual action truss rod, 113/16″ nut width, 2 ¼″ string spacing, a custom JOI Guitars pinless Ebony bridge, nicely detailed Holly wood binding with black trim, Ebony fretboard, Mother of Pearl fret markers, and 1:21 gear ratio’d Gotoh tuners.

Raven Guitar
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In designing these guitars, I looked at celebrating the history of not only this tree but the broader history of the Maple species and it’s significance in the area in which it grew. The Maple wood has such a strong importance in the traditional cultural practices for many First Nations bands. I was intrigued by the fact that this tree came from the Cowichan Valley, which is known to be home to enormous old-growth Bigleaf Maples. This area on southern Vancouver Island is in Hul’qumi’num First Nations territory.  As a Metis citizen, I am eager to collaborate on projects with other First Nations artists.

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