Santa Wood Carvings
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Unleashing the Santa in every block of wood Castlegar News

 
Dave Francis

 
Christmas may be a longtime coming, but not for artist Dave Francis who deals with Santa Claus on a daily basis. Dave’s wood carvings range in price from $40 for a tree ornament to $900 for a full size figurine. For info check www.snowcottagecarvings.com
 
GEOFF MUELLER
News Reporter

One’s a multi-billion dollar software mogul, the other is a guy who carves Santa’s for a living. But what does Bill Gates and Dave Francis have in common? Besides the fact Francis sells his carvings out of a shop in Kirkland, Washington — the Home Page of Mr. Gates — more than you might have thought. In fact, one could argue that Gates and Francis share a common entrepreneurial spirit and drive to create.

You might remember Francis From Avenues Hair Salon, he cut hair there for 13 years. He also sold some of his first carvings to customers at Avenues. He remembers bringing in one of his early creations and showing it off to coworkers. A client snatched up his first Santa for $25. A year later, Francis was approached by a shop and then started selling to stores in Victoria and Whistler. His success has blossomed ever since. Sitting in his comfortable, well-maintained workshop — with a big screen TV and stereo system — Francis explains his typical day to me. It might go something like this: wake-up in the morning with an idea for a new Santa; get-up, draw it out on paper; go downstairs, cut a block of wood; carve and paint a Santa. In between, there’s other activities like eating, walking the dog and taking the kids to and from school, but for the most part, that’s how it works, he explains. With an art school background and more than 20 years experience as a hairstylist, Francis has developed a knack for transporting ideas from his mind to paper and then carving them into wood. “That morning it was an idea in my head, tonight it’s sitting here in front of me. A brand new Santa, a brand new design — It’s the only one in the whole world. That’s a cool feeling,” he smiles. Dave’s wood-carvings are now on every continent of the world. People from all walks of life have embraced his work, adding his unique Santa carvings to their collections. He will travel to Kirkland, Washington for a show in mid July. It’s being put on by a store that sells an array of Santa carvings ranging from $20 to $12,000. Francis will be the only Canadian out of the 12 wood carvers on site and says it’s his own personal style, infused into every piece he creates, that sets him apart from the pack. “People recognize my work because of the style. People are amazed how it’s the same subject matter, but it’s a totally different look,” he says. “When I design a piece, or when I carve a piece, I’m carving it for me.” Francis makes what he wants, and feels fortunate that people have embraced his work. Likewise, he considers himself an artist first and salesman second. “If I never sold another piece, I would still carve,” he says. The love he shares for his work resonates from his words and actions. Holding up one of his latest creations for me to view, Francis says, “I’m one of those fortunate people who’ve taken a hobby or passion and have been able to make enough to pay the bills.” However, ‘When you do something like this, you don’t do it for the money.” When it comes down to it, Francis is still in a little shock about his calling and has a good sense of humor about it too. “Good grief, I make Santa’s for a living, how ridiculous is that:’ he laughs. “The thing that makes me the most happy about carving these figurines is the ability to put a smile onto someone’s face when they see them, that is a very wonderful feeling,” Francis says. To date, Francis has sold more than 4000 of his signature creations. He has carved 141) Santa’s this year and the demand continues to grow. Francis’ carvings can be found online at www.snowcottagecarvings.com