Christian Michaud - Parallèle soixante

October 05, 2015 1 Comment

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The actor who loved wood

Actor since the early 2000s, some years ago Christian Michaud decided to take training in cabinetmaking at Artebois school in Quebec and wood carving courses from Quebec sculptors. For him, a new passion began.

Christian Michaud - Parallèle soixante - Chic & Basta
Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon

Already in love with cooking, it was obvious that Christian decides to design items for the kitchen and table, among them  beautiful hand-carved spoons. In love with the great major northern areas, he chose Parallèle soixante for his company name to refer to the geographical line at the 60th parallel north.

In his workshop located in the Chaudière-Appalaches region, this talented craftsman produces beautiful solid wood utilitarian objects, made in small series: spoons, service and cutting boards, salt cellars, etc.

The first time I discussed with Christian, I immediately felt the great passion he has for working with wood and I wanted to let you know his enthusiam.

What led you to work with wood?

With my acting profession, which I've been doing for 14 years now, I spend most of my time analyzing people, to put myself in different dramatic situations, to use my emotions, my feelings, to be able to do my job. It is an extraordinary profession, but it's very ephemeral and not concrete. To find a balance in everything, I needed a hobby that is, precisely, concrete and non-ephemeral. As I am also passionate about nature and the outdoors, wood quickly emerged as the material to discover and exploit. So I took training in cabinetmaking school to see if I was going to love this material and ohhhhhh, it was a great discovery, I am completely in love.

How do you manage to balance two jobs simultaneously?

As a self-employed I have the chance to be master of my schedule. I can pretty well predict in advance what will be my next year theater season and now that I take the experience as a cabinetmaker, I also begin to experience periods of large orders and thus meet the demand. And when I play at the theater in the evening, there is nothing better than to find myself in my studio the day and think of something else. This is therapeutic !!!

Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon

Tell us about your work environment?

When I finished my training in cabinetmaking, I rented a small workshop in Limoilou in Quebec City, near my home at the time, slowly buying equipment and practicing quietly at my own pace. This workshop had a dimension of 11 x 20 feet with no windows. I quickly came to the narrow, as special tools take up space, and the neon only lighting, the fact that there were no windows was a bit mind numbing. My little girl, my girlfriend and I have just moved in the countryside, specifically in St-Roch Des Aulnaies, a beautiful small village located on the riverfront in Chaudière-Appalaches. As I write this, I'm in the middle of moving my studio, so not yet fully installed, but my future workplace will be quite the opposite of the first. SPACE & LIGHT will be very present.

Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon

What is your favorite type of wood, and how do you choose the materials with which you work?  

As I specialize currently in cooking utensils, I need to use wood species hard enough, so Maple is very present. I love Walnut and Cherry wood. I'd say the Black Walnut-wood is my favorite. It works really well and is very beautiful. When I do spoons, I completely realized them by hand with gouges, there is no electrical machine and thus, black-walnut and butternut sculpt greatly.

Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon

Your creations are always well finished. What do you apply on the wood to give it that look?

To finish my accessories, as I mentioned earlier, I do not use any dye, I apply 3 or 4 coats of butcher block mineral oil and beeswax to finish everything. For the spoons, for example, I polish with different polishing pastes, food grade, of course.

Photo credit: Nicolas Frank Vachon

What you read, listen and watch to feed your inspiration?

I go very often in bookstores to buy sculpture or woodworking magazines. I also try to be as attentive as possible to my surroundings, simplicity affects me deeply and very often my pieces are inspired by it, they are refined. I also listen to music while working, which plunges me into a rather zen state. It is very rare that I'm tired when I go out of my studio, on the contrary I feel calm, peaceful and relaxed.

Tell us about the creative process of your production? And what part of your work do you prefer?  

Most of the pieces I make are born of errors. When I want a new object to manufacture, I constantly go back to my little signature (a line and a circle) which, I hope, sets me a little apart from all the other artisans who do this kind of kitchen accessories. Thus, with this little signature, it gives me clues on how to organize my wood pieces, where to drill my holes to reach a result that suits me. But what is great is that even if I do, for example, fifty cutting boards with the line and round to the same place, each board will be different because of the differences of each tree. So, each piece is unique. I love all stages of the process of creation and production, really, I love them all.

Photo credit: Chic & Basta

Are there other items of which you would like to experience the production in the next year?

In fact, I'm actually doing a lot of tests on new things. As I have al lot of great quality wood scraps, I wondered how I could do to use them intelligently. And besides, I wanted to incorporate another material. I have recently met a person working with aluminum and it greatly inspired me. I am currently designing products of wood and aluminum. I have no knowledge in jewelery and especially I will never presume to tell me jewelry designer saw my lack of knowledge in this area, but I work more instinctively and I enjoy trying to integrate my line and my round in these small decorative items for the body. We'll see what comes of it...

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1 Response

Simon Farrow
Simon Farrow

October 10, 2016

I was formerly married to Andree Michaud from Levis, who I believe is a cousin of yours. Our daughter Krista Barron kindly gave me a beautiful salt-and-pepper pot which you had made, and I wanted to let you know that I love it, Your fame has spread to Kelowna, BC! Thank you for creating such lovely things.
Simon Farrow, Kelowna,

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