Local woman finds beauty in wood

“You never know what you’re going to get when start carving.”
That’s Marlene LaFreniere’s philosophy when it comes to her award-winning work, which is on display at the Fort Frances Public Library for the next two weeks.
LaFreniere’s love of carving started four years ago when she and her husband, Adrian, decided to spend their winters in Arizona after they had retired, settling at Greenfield Village in Mesa.
“When we looked for a place to purchase, we considered the amenities each had to offer,” said LaFreniere, who recently returned here for the summer.
“I always enjoyed doing crafts and the village offered a number of crafts from silver smithing and lapidary to woodworking,” she noted. “One day while I was walking by the woodcarving room, I decided to go in and look around.”
Before she knew it, LaFreniere had a carver’s glove on, and a knife and block of basswood in her hands under the watchful eye of instructor Bob LeMaster.
After a series of instructions, she ended up with her first carving–a duck-shaped letter opener.
“I found that wood carving was very enjoyable, and I have been carving for the past four years,” noted LaFreniere, who takes a break from the hobby when she’s back here for the summer.
“I like to use butternut–it’s a medium-hardwood, and it’s beautiful.”
As her skills have improved, she’s picked up a few tips from instructors like Cal Walters of Wisconsin and John Storer and Dave Rushlo of Scottsdale, Ariz.
“It’s both satisfying and challenging to work with a variety of carvers from other parts who come from across Canada and the United States,” noted LaFreniere.
She’s competed in various wood-carving shows, and recently won a Blue Ribbon for the carving, “Dancers,” at the Arizona Wood Carvers’ Association in Scottsdale, and ribbons from the Grand Canyon Wood Carvers’ shows held at the Phoenix Civic Plaza.
“Dancers” is among the eight pieces on display at the library here.
LaFreniere also has had articles written about her carvings in the national wood carvers’ magazine, “Chipchats.”