Taiga Wood Carvings

Original wood carvings created by PEI carver Bill Testu 


I was born in Quebec in 1949 and moved to Labrador in 1973 to start a job as a Machinist with the Iron Ore Company of Canada. After 38 years living in that wild and vast land my wife and I decided to retire and move to a less harsh environment. And here we are in picturesque Prince Edward Island. There's a lot of beauty packed into this small island. People here are friendly and helpful and the rat race is non existent. As a child I was constantly working with wood but I didn't carve anything until 1984. A friend showed me an old decoy that he had purchased for a large amount of money.  I wanted one also but didn't have a lot of spare cash so I decided to make one.  Many "How To" books later, and a lot of cut fingers, I produced something that vaguely resembled a Scaup Duck.  I was hooked.  Gradually I moved to stylized carvings as I couldn't bear to cover a nice looking wood grain with paint.  As an amateur birder, naturally my main subject is birds.  Several years ago I joined the local Craft Guild in Labrador and started to market my wood creations.  Many people gave me ideas and asked for carvings outside my experience, so I branched out.  I've since tried all types of carving, intarsia and scroll sawing with varying degrees of success.    


All my carvings are made from wood harvested in North America, usually by me or family and friends. Normally I use found forest wood or cut down dead or damaged trees. Occasionally I have to purchase wood and then I only deal with suppliers whom I trust. My favorites for painted carvings are Basswood and Pine. Butternut is my top choice for natural finished pieces but due to a blight it is getting very rare and expensive. I use Walnut, Birch and Willow less often but am exploring more uses for these woods. 


Hand carved pieces by their very nature are one of a kind. Even if I get an order for 6 or more carvings no two will turn out the same. Occasionally I have in the round sculptures available but my most popular items are lapel pins, fridge magnets and ornaments. Birds and fish are my main subjects but I have carved other items such as leaves, feathers,frogs and snowmen as well. 


Taiga is Russian for Northern or Boreal forest. It is the largest Biome in the world covering much of Canada. This area produces Pine, Cedar and Birch which I use for a lot of my carvings. Since I spent most of my life in this fascinating land I thought it proper to name my site Taiga. However, nothing is forever, and so my new site will be simply Bill Testu Woodcarvings.