Born and raised in Calgary, AB, Shayla Giroux moved to Vancouver, BC, when she was 20 years old to pursue a career in Fine Arts. She attended Emily Carr University of Art and Design, where she studied Sculpture. After graduating from university, she secured a job in a cabinet-making shop and began an apprenticeship. Currently, she works in public art fabrication and feels like she has landed her dream job. She is a bit of a workaholic, but when she is not busy being a shop rat, you can find her at the river with her dog or out on a bike-packing adventure!
Shayla in action.
Wooden set of nails. Yes, she can wear them, and no, they aren't functional.
On a recent trip to visit her dad, he taught her how to carve a chain from a log that he felled.
Shayla's work in situ showcases her artistic talents and attention to detail.
Made from off cuts and salvaged dunnage from job sites. An experiment of creating pattern with different spicies of wood.
The corset that broke the internet... well, Instagram. In this project, Shayla redefines and reconnects with her femininity while working in a male-dominated space.
How did you get into working with wood? I specialized in Sculpture while at university, focusing primarily on soft sculpture using clay and fabrics. I realized I needed to broaden my material knowledge and enhance my skills to ensure the structural integrity of my creations. That's when I started working in a cabinet-making shop, where I began working with wood. Over the past four years in the skilled trades, I've felt a stronger connection to my father and grandfather. I've come to realize my desire to carry on the skills they dedicated their lives to and relied on to make a living. Everyone else in my family has chosen a very different path. I want to carry on their legacy. Recently, I took a trip to carve a log with my dad, bringing along my Arbortech, and he became fully enamored with it, expressing, 'Woah, I need to get me one of those.' In particular, he loved the TURBO Plane. While I may never attain the lumberjack status of my dad and grandfather, I feel a profound connection to them when I practice the skills they relied on for their livelihoods. Conceptually, there's beauty in the generational full cycle—from them being the lumberjacks who felled the trees to me using the wood to create fine artwork.
What inspires your creations? During university and the first couple of years of my apprenticeship, I didn’t have excess money. I would use whatever materials I could find in recycling bins. I designed based on the parameters of the materials I collected, pushing them as far as I could. I believe this practice helped my creative thinking and innovative problem-solving. I love making items out of materials that would not typically be associated with one another. I am inspired by contradictions, especially between the hyper-feminine and hyper-masculine.
What would you tell your younger self starting out on your artistic journey?
Only take advice and criticism from people that you trust and admire. In the times I have considered quitting - I would tell myself that it is okay; nobody is forcing you to be here, and nobody will be disappointed in you. I think having this compassion for myself is part of the reason I have never quit. During the moments when I've made a "huge” mistake, I would tell myself that a couple of years down the line, I've not only learned from it but have also become smarter and more skilled. Either I've forgotten about my embarrassment, or I find it so hilarious that it becomes a story I share during lunch breaks. When you are in a constant state of learning, evolving, and developing, you will never feel like you are an expert; and that is a good thing. You will become a highly adaptable and empathetic problem solver who is always ready for a challenge.
What is your favorite Arbortech tool and why? Oh, I love them all, but I have to go with the itty bitty Precision Ball Gouge. Though she is small, she is mighty.
If you were a type of wood, what would you be and why? Interesting you should ask; I think about this often. As I spend extended time with species of woods, I have profiled them with personalities alongside their structural attributes. Rather than seeing the tree for the wood, I have always seen the wood from the tree and want to acknowledge that the materials I work with were once rooted in the earth. Cherry trees are contradictory in meaning, representing the impermanent nature of life; birth and death, beauty and violence. In life, there is no black and white; there are only shades of grey, and I believe that contradictions are inevitable when you can identify with all ends of the many spectrums. I have always personally related myself to cherry wood, which is why I chose it as the material for my wooden dress. Cherry has excellent carving and molding properties; she can be easily sanded, stained, and polished to a very fine and smooth finish. Her heartwood is resistant to decay. If you are gentle, she will bend. I have always had a crush on Douglas Fir. But that’s a story for another time.
To learn more about Shayla and her craft, vist:
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