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Love affair for wood drifts through 40 years

The Peninsula Driftwood Artists members hold their annual show this weekend in Sequim.

More than half of the 80 pieces on display are from first-time exhibitors.

"I was once told that 'the wood is the star of the show,'" said Jenny Linth, a club member and certified LuRon driftwood art instructor.

Throughout the weekend, members of Northwest wood artisan groups and local driftwood artists will demonstrate sculpting techniques.

Driftwood will be on sale for $1-$5 and a raffle will take place on Sunday.



Background

The Peninsula Driftwood Artists started 40 years ago from the efforts of Sequim resident Elizabeth Swanson. She studied with Lucile Worland, who spent time with members of the Makah Tribe in Neah Bay to learn their process for crafting driftwood. Worland adapted the "LuRon" method, which is the method driftwood artists use now.

They scrape, carve and sand using a variety of manual tools, nothing electric.

Member Diane Wernett said they use elk horns to burnish the wood and turpentine and beeswax to create a shine.

Club president Janice Hunt said many people obtain their tools from dentists.

"The picks help get into nooks and crannies," she said.

Members seek driftwood pieces at the beach and clearcut logging areas.

"It's kind of a treasure hunt," said Linth.

"Finding a piece, lugging it to your car, taking it home, it's a great experience," Hunt said.

Peninsula Driftwood has two certified LuRon instructors, Linth and Yolanda Proulx. Two other members, Sharon Curnett and Twila Baukol, are training to become instructors.

"If we had more instructors, we could easily enlarge the amount of people who are learning to do this," Baukol said,

"I think it's a beautiful art form and I want it to continue," Curnett said.

"Plus, it gives me an excuse to go beachcombing."

Baukol and Curnett believe they can provide new driftwood artists with the basics and an easier method for finishing their individual pieces.

"We've been doing it longer and maybe can identify where a piece might best go," Curnett said.

"The wood actually shows you what it wants to be," Hunt said.

Carver Charlie Johnson, 83, spends about five hours a day working on his driftwood art.

"I miss a lot of lunches because of it."

He started in October after attending last year's show.

"After one class I thought, 'This is for me,'" he said.

Curnett gets a similar feeling when she begins a piece.

"You definitely know on that first one if you are going to like it," she said.

Club information

Peninsula Driftwood Artists Club has 42 active members. They meet from 10 a.m.-

2 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Trinity United Methodist Church, 100 S. Blake Ave., Sequim.

To become a member, applicants must take a 30-week class from Yolanda Proulx or Jenny Linth. It costs $40 and is available on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Wood is supplied and a tool kit is available at extra cost.

Membership in the club is $15 a year following completion of the course. For available classes, call 681-8825.

The club will hold its first driftwood competition as part of the county fair, Aug. 20-23 at the Clallam County Fairgrounds in Port Angeles.



Matthew Nash can be reached at mnash@sequimgazette.com.



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