MORRISBURG–Although Dwight Saunders knew at an early age that he wanted to study art…he thought it would be best to follow the advice of his parents.
“My dream in grade eight was to go to art school, but my parents said you couldn’t earn a living in art. I am now trying to prove them wrong in my 50’s.”
Although his desire to be an artist was always with him, Dwight studied to become a nurse.
“We were three boys with 60 girls in the class in nursing. Back in the 70’s, they would practically pay males to be nurses. It was then that I discovered I could do hair and make up, and that’s what I did to earn extra money.”
Dwight worked as a registered nurse for eight years, but he says, “that was not my fate.”
His fate became anything that required an artistic touch…a makeup artist, a hair dresser, an interior home designer, a home stager, a sculptor…
He makes jewellery and works with stained glass, mosaic and fused glass. The list goes on and on.
“It’s all interwoven. It’s texture. It’s colour. It’s got to be tactile. That is something that is very important to me. I remember as a kid not being allowed to touch things. I was very tactile as a kid. I wanted to touch the piece, touch the materials.”
Dwight says he also lives in the minute. He is a bit impatient.
“I want everything done today. I want to be able to do things and enjoy them today.”
“The glass jewellery has to go in the kiln, so you have to wait until the next day. Stained glass work takes time and if you are painting, it can take months.”
That’s why his discovery of the Paverpol product two years ago answered all his needs.
Dwight says he found, “a medium I love working in. I have worked with things I liked, but I truly love working with this.”
“I had been working in clay and all that kind of stuff but that takes forever. Paverpol is totally different. I can make a flock of birds in a day.”
Paverpol is a textile hardener that turns natural materials into rock hard objects.
At first glance, people think they are looking at something heavy, that it’s made out of metal.
In fact, the Paverpol sculptures are extremely lightweight and very durable.
“People are also really surprised when you tell them you can complete a project in just a day,” says Dwight.
“Anyone can do this. I have yet to have a piece that anyone has taken home that they didn’t like.”
Once Dwight began working with Paverpol, it wasn’t long before he turned to teaching it.
Now a certified Paverpol Instructor, he says, “the teaching came along because I enjoyed it so much. I wanted to share it with others.”
Dwight and his partner Helder have a hair salon in their historical Morrisburg home, a former tourist home that operated under the name The Ship’s Mate. When they purchased the Morrisburg property, seven years ago, their home and business was located in Winchester.
Soon after the Morrisburg purchase they sold their Winchester operation. They now work out of a very functional and tastefully decorated salon, Aura Beauty Wellness, at the back of their Morrisburg home.
Two years ago, Dwight and Helder purchased a beautiful home in Cornwall which they run as a bed and breakfast getaway under the name Aura Escapes.
On the third floor of the Cornwall home, Dwight hosts various workshops including those for Paverpol sculpting. The third floor of the Morrisburg home also has a studio, but it is reserved as Dwight’s personal studio.
Looking to the future Dwight says, “When I retire from some of my professions, I would love to be able to do this full time. That’s why I work my day job now, so I can do my passion.”
“My clients who are retiring are saying they don’t have a hobby…that they won’t have anything to do.”
“Paverpol is a great solution. Anyone can do it, and you can complete a piece in a day.”
In fact, a beginners’ workshop in the Cornwall studio in January, proved just that to six area women.
Mary Errington of Williamsburg was one of the six in the class. “I think it’s simply amazing,” said Errington. “One minute, it was just a blob of tape and the next minute it had personality. I have never done anything quite so free form before.”
Debbie Pagerie of Cornwall first saw Dwight’s Paverpol sculptures at the Old Home Week outdoor market in Morrisburg last summer.
“My husband and Helder made a bet that I couldn’t do it, so here I am. This is my seventh sculpture since the summer. I love it, and I’ve sold one already. That was a big accomplishment.”
For the six women, the day-long Paverpol workshop began with a continental breakfast. The morning portion of the workshop passed quickly as they worked forming their wire frame, built it up with foil and then covered it with masking tape.
While this was being done, Helder was busy preparing lunch for the students…all homemade and all absolutely delicious agreed the women.
“There are very few rules,” Dwight told the class as they set about clothing their sculptures during the afternoon session. “It’s a very forgiving art form. You never know what you are going to end up with.”
He recalled a student who wanted a heavy older person and ended up with a young teenager. “It just seems to take its own form,” said Debbie. “For the last course I brought a feather and ended up with a medicine woman.”
Once the form is completed with the masking tape, it is wrapped in fabric that has been dipped in the Paverpol.
The fabric can be anything from t-shirts, to bed sheets…natural fabric is the best. Lace and doilies often add the final touches.
Pieces range from a hand-held size to life-size figurines. They can be displayed in any home setting or can be a centre-piece for a garden.
“When we start working with the fabric, we want to squeeze it as dry as possible. When it is too wet it droops as opposed to draping it.”
“The magic is in the last hour,” says Dwight. “That is when it happens. And no matter how hard we try, there is never going to be any two pieces alike.”
Once the fabric has dried, color can be dry brushed on. This provides the patina and gives the piece the look of a sculpture.
Dwight currently has two of his large pieces showing in a Cornwall Art Gallery one of which recently won ‘people’s choice’ at the Cornwall Regional Gallery Show.
Last summer, he won third prize at the first Ontario-Quebec Paverpol Contest, and he has sold pieces to people from as far away as Texas.
He is extremely proud to have recently completed a commission for an area home, to artfully fill the overhead space of an open two storey great room. For this he completed three sculptures, two males and one female in a Cirque du Soleil theme.
Aura Escapes with Dwight and Helder offers various getaway weekends at their Cornwall home which sleeps eight (four bedrooms). There are Craft Weekends (Paverpol Sculpting, Bunka, felting, glass fusion, stained glass, floral, etc.), Flea Market Weekends (a visit to antique and flea markets), Fashion Factory Weekends (shopping and fun in Montreal), Gallery and Shopping Weekends (Old Port in Montreal, art galleries and boutiques) and Cooking Weekends (a full day of cooking or baking).
The weekend getaways begin with Friday evening arrivals. Workshops are held on Saturday.
Information can be obtained at www.auraescapes.yolasite.com or by calling 613-543-4444.
Anyone interested in Paverpol, a workshop or a weekend getaway can visit ‘the guys’, as they like to be called, at their Morrisburg location where Paverpol pieces, the Paverpol product, jewellery and stained glass pieces are displayed.