Sparwood’s Jennifer Laberge of Perfectly Imperfect Handmade Creations. Phil McLachlan/The Free Press

New artist emerges from the woodwork

Despite only taking up the technique of wood-burning three months ago, Sparwood’s Jennifer Laberge of Perfectly Imperfect Handmade Creations has made tremendous progress, and impressed many at the Fernie Mountain Market, last Sunday.

An artist at heart, Laberge was inspired to take up wood-burning because of her love for graphic design. Before this, she specialized in lap quilts, memory quilts, travel bags and mug rugs.

Laberge completed her post-secondary education in web and graphic design, but excelled in art all throughout high school.

Born in Sparwood, Laberge spent much of her childhood traveling the states with her father who was in the military. She recently moved back to Sparwood two years ago to start a family.

This new technique of wood-burning allows Laberge to customize anything wooden; from clocks to signs, bookmarks, and skateboards.

On display was a skateboard with an intricate dragon burned into the base. Many stopped to feel the 3D design and ask her about this medium.

Sunday marked Laberge’s second time at the Fernie Mountain Market, although she has set up shop at several Sparwood and Baynes Lake markets in the past. She has found the response to her work to be very good.

Her wood-burnings take on a few different styles, including a comical side, as well as a more serious, intricate side. Some designs, like one found on a custom clock, set the scene of a dreamy landscape in the clouds. Laberge has found that her bookmarks, which contain simple yet entertaining drawings of characters, have become very popular.

Three months ago, Laberge was ready to try leather-tooling, that was until she discovered wood-burning. Leather-tooling would limit her to leather, whereas wood-burning can also be done on leather, and paper.

“I thought it was going to be more difficult, and it was a lot easier than I thought,” said Laberge. “The drawing comes naturally to me, so using the pen for the burning was quite easy.”

Her first wood-burning design was that of Hank the Octopus from Finding Dory, etched onto a miniature skateboard. She found the board in a flea market for two dollars, and upon arriving home her daughter wanted her to draw Hank on it. She attempted this, and it worked out very well.

From here, she was off to the races. Her second piece was a dreamy landscape etched on a clock, which quickly progressed to a much larger clock on which she drew the Kraken pulling down a ship to its watery grave.

To make the clocks, she takes the mechanical clock parts, and attaches them to a wooden canvas with a wall hanger after she etches the design on the front.

Aside from the complicated works of art, Laberge has also designed more minimalistic pieces, one of which includes a koi fish wrapped swimming behind the hands of a clock.

Laberge will soon be designing her first-ever guitar with the wood-burning technique.

Art takes up a large portion of her life.

“I just love it,” she said. “I love being able to put stuff down, visions, stuff that I see. (I also love) how happy it makes people when they see it.”

Although Laberge hasn’t set a lofty end-goal, she would love to one day design pieces in a large workshop on a larger property.