When Steve Clegg sees a fallen tree, he doesn’t see inconvenience or waste, he sees opportunity.
For two years the 27-year-old owner of Clegg Woodcrafts has been creating free-formed sculptures, plaques and unique home decor out of salvaged and reclaimed wood.
He’s acquired trees blown down by wind, left by loggers, cut down by local farmers, diseased by the Ponderosa pine beetle, and those destined to be burned.
“None of the wood I use is from a lumber yard; each piece is either salvaged or reclaimed with a story behind it,” Clegg said outside his Ryder Lake shop.
“I’m like a wood pack rat – I can’t throw anything out.”
He’s also an active environmentalist.
By using salvaged wood, Clegg avoids harming live trees. He also grows his own trees as a way of giving back to the environment for all its given him.
To date, he’s grown over 250 native trees from seeds.
“I feel that if I’m taking trees out of the ecosystem, even though they’re ones that have already fallen they’re still part of the ecosystem, and I feel I should give back, compensate for what I’ve taken,” he said. “It goes full circle.”
Clegg’s love affair with wood goes back as far as he can remember.
Growing up, he spent hours with his dad tinkering away in the family’s wood shop. He took woodworking courses in school, and instead of buying gifts, he made them.
He started an arborist business after graduation, but shifted his focus a few years later and enrolled in BCIT’s marketing management entrepreneurship program. There, he was elected president of the Students in Free Enterprise Club, which under his leadership, organized a trade show for environmentally friendly businesses, which continues today.
Post graduation, Clegg was headhunted by BCIT to commercialize new technology. But after just a year in the position, he resigned.
“Wearing a suit everyday, sitting in a cubicle, that just wasn’t my style,” he said.
Clegg fell back on his love for the environment.
He started the Fraser Valley Conservancy, a non-profit environmental consulting organization that promotes the protection of species at risk and assists private landowners in becoming better stewards of their land.
In 2009, he opened Clegg Woodcrafts, where he features the live edges of wood, and retains the natural bark, shape and function of the wood in his products. Every piece he takes, he utilizes, whether it’s through his free-form sculptures, mirrors, or cutting boards. Wood chips he uses for fire kindling and sawdust he uses for mulch.
In just two years, his unique style has been recognized locally, provincially, nationally and internationally. His creations have been picked up by Harvard Medical School, VANOC, BCIT, the PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Tour, David Suzuki, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, two U.S. senators, a retirement present for environmentalist Mark Angelo, and most recently by the deputy consul general of the Peoples Republic of China.
“What I do has a lot of added work,” he said. “But it has lot of added value too.”