Dennis Drechsler marine woodcarver Victoria BC.
I started to get interested in woodcarving in 1984 while living in Edmonton. An auto accident in that year put me in a leg cast for three months. My wife bought me a carving book and a set of chisels to put in the time and I set about "whittling" on a 2 x 4. My first creation was a small Canada Goose. When I got back on my feet, I began to learn all about carving decoys and birds. I don't remember making an actual decision to begin to carve whales, but we had been visiting Victoria for a number of years and on one of our visits we had gone whale watching. I guess the idea to carve my first Killer Whale probably resulted from that. I soon discovered that there were no books available to obtain patterns from, and I would have to create my own. I started researching photos of whales in books borrowed from the library. This was before the computers and the Internet. Once I realized that this was a subject that wildlife carvers had not yet tried, it was as much fun creating the patterns and reading about the animals as it was planning how to mount the carvings and create an interesting sculpture. I have been at it now for 25 years and pretty much carve only whales, sharks and dolphins. I still do lots of reading and pattern drawing and the learning continues! I compete in many of the woodcarving competitions throughout the Pacific Northwest, both in Canada and the US, and to date I have won six "Best Of Show" Awards. In April 2000, I competed at the Ward World Championship Woodcarving Competition in Ocean City, Maryland and my carving of Gray Whales, mother and calf, placed First and won the Best of Division Award in the "Aquatic Vertebrates" category. I have also been hired to teach carving seminars locally as well as across western Canada and the Pacific Northwest. I guess I am one of the few Canadian carvers specializing in whales. A qualified PNC (Pacific Northwest Carvers) woodcarving judge, I am on the organizing council for the Pacific Brant Carving and Art Show, held every April in Sidney, BC. My wife Barbara and I enjoy the mild climate that living in Victoria affords and having the ocean at your doorstep is about the best reason for a wood carver to be carving whales that I can think of.