passed away Monday, October 3, 2011. He will be missed.
I like to carve. I get a great deal of satisfaction from taking
a nondescript piece of stone or wood and creating a likeness
of something found in nature, such as birds, animals, reptiles
or fungi. When I look at a raw piece of stone, I visualize what
is in it, it tells me what it wants to be. I make it happen
by removing what I don't want, revealing its inner image or
essence. I have studied rocks and minerals extensively, and
carving them allows me to bring out the inherent beauty of their
colour and structure. I have also had a fascination with nature
all my life and this is just another way of expressing my love
of nature in all its various forms.
I am a veterinarian who specialized in the treatment
and surgery of birds, reptiles, exotic pets, dogs and cats for
37 years. When I retired in 1997, I turned my North York, Ontario
practice over to our son, Dr. Rick Axelson. A year before retirement,
in June 1996, my wife Judy and I moved to Ballantrae, just north
of Stouffville, Ontario. During my years as a veterinarian,
I lectured all across North America on avian and exotic pet
medicine and surgery and wrote numerous professional journal
articles. I have also written 5 books on verterinary medicine
and archaeology - another major interest in my life. All these
years of treating small creatures has given me excellent hand-eye
coordination which helps me in my sculpting. I've also developed
a deeper appreciation for wildlife: Judy and I are avid birdwatchers.
For many years prior to 2000, I carved wood and occasionally
some soapstone. The purchase of a 60 acre cottage property in
the Bancroft area in 1989 was prompted by my interest in rocks
and minerals and I have attended the Bancroft Gemboree as an
outside dealer for about 17 years. I have been carving stone
seriously since about 2000 when I discovered a large (40 acre)
deposit of various coloured marble and green serpentine on our
Most of my carvings are sculpted in hard stone such as marble
and granite but sometimes I work in serpentine and soapstone.
Soapstone and wood can be carved with a knife, files or chisels.
Changing over from soapstone and wood, which are quite soft,
to hard stone like marble and granite required a completely
new set of tools. Hard stone carving requires the use of diamond
and air powered tools and I do most of my carving with a diamond
blade on an angle grinder plus a flexible shaft Dremel-type
tool with diamond burs. This type of stone carving produces
a great deal of dust which requires carving outdoors and using
a protective mask. I rely on power tools for most of my work.
I supply some diamond carving tools, marble, green serpentine
and soapstone carving stone to fellow artists and offer lessons
on hard stone carving. My work has won two first place awards
in North York and Bancroft art shows. I have worked in clay
for many years reproducing the pottery and pipes of the native
Iroquoian people of Ontario as they made it, with a bonfire
as my kiln. Some of my reproductions are in museums.