Medieval chip carving workshop delights

Jane Reddington

Sounder Staff

Tuesday, April 5 2016

Island residents who signed up for Patrick Olmsted’s workshop, “Introducing Medieval Chip Carving” through the Island of the Arts Festival, learned how to make designs that have been found on wooden chests over 1,000 years old in the British Isles.

That would be the medieval part that involves starting with a blade that has been sharpened on a Japanese wood stone. 

“The water floats away metal particles, creating its own emulsion,” Olmsted says who has been building instruments on Gabriola for the past 25 years. 

Patrick Olmsted during his medieval workshop held as part of the Isle of the Arts Festival. Jane Reddington photo 

Olmsted trained with maestros who were Spanish, Viennese and Hungarian to learn all the different elements that allow anything from bunk beds to dining tables to window trims to be decorated with these age-old designs.Anyone of any age who has strength in their hands and patience can do this. 

Olmsted chuckles as he adds, “and a little bit of OCD.”

Olmsted is keen for people to know about the Commons Workspace where benches from the shipyard school have been installed for teaching. 

Vices have been mounted at intervals to help teach cabinet making courses and bronze casting of different articles as well as fastenings for boats.

Contact Olmsted at and learn more about the different courses that will be offered at the Commons Workspace (the building next to the parking for the Commons).  

The Arts Festival continues this week. 

See for more information.