He sketched herons in a notebook for a year then spent 30 hours figuring out how to make a design out of cedar shingles. The next day, someone stopped by his shop and bought it.
“That’s when I thought maybe I could spend more time on design than on scaffolding,” says Randy Lauzon.
Now the Fanny Bay resident’s layered shingle art transforms walls — in California, Alberta, the Eastern Seaboard and the Comox Valley — into works of art.
So far, in Lauzon’s shift from sidewall shingling to shingle art, he’s created 14 templates. These include a candle, lighthouse, dogwood flower as well as numerous other designs. The heron is one of the most popular.
“Randy’s work is amazing,” says Judi Wild, who along with husband, Lorne Hutter, bought the 1.2-metre heron to add some dramatic impact to their addition. “We’re thrilled with the result. Randy is so talented.”
People can install the kits themselves — inside or out — or hire Lauzon to put it all together. Or, if a person really wants something unique, Lauzon offers custom designs.
A former resident of Cape Breton requested a map of the island to put on his pool house. Lauzon’s rendition is not only attractive, it’s accurate, too. Another project involved a series of waves 12 metres long.
Lauzon has added his distinctive touch to the Fanny Bay Hall and the Fanny Bay Inn and several businesses have used his services to develop one-of-a-kind logos.
When it comes to the finishing stain or paint, Lauzon leaves that up to individual taste.
“Some people want the natural look of the wood, while others want subtle colours or perhaps something quite dramatic,” he says. “Everything from the design to the finish is up to the person involved. Shingles can last up to 50 years so I want everyone to have a piece they really like.”
Lauzon works exclusively in western red cedar, an evergreen, coniferous tree native to western North America. The wood is known for its warm reddish colour, straight grain and distinctive aroma.
He’s not the first to take a fancy to Thuja plicata. First Nations of the Pacific Northwest have traditionally used it for everything from homes, tools, canoes, firewood, clothing and ceremonial regalia.
In addition to its striking appearance, the wood from older trees is valued for its chemical makeup that makes it resistant to rot.
Lauzon obtains his certified No. 1 grade, kiln-dried shingles from Vancouver Island mills and estimates that 50 per cent of his shingle art is custom work. And, ever ready for a challenge, he’s experimenting with three-dimensional designs.
Originally from Ontario, Lauzon moved to Fanny Bay after a friend sent him a postcard telling him she thought he’d like the area. He liked it so much he’s lived on the same road since 1977.
It’s obvious Lauzon loves wood. In fact, he claims there’s probably some sawdust in his blood. That comes for a 25-year career of working in sawmills. When the last one he worked at closed he decided it was time to pursue something different.
A course at Community Futures in 2003 helped him launch Light Line Design and begin the decorative shingle art he calls Cedar Expressions.
“It all starts in my head as a design and then I figure out how to make it work,” says Lauzon. “I really like the response I get from people.”
To view some his work, visit www.cedarexpressions.com or give Lauzon a call at 250-335-0485. If you’re lucky, he might take you for a tour of some Comox Valley Cedar Expressions.
Paula Wild is a published author and regular contributor to the Comox Valley Record’s arts and entertainment section.