My name is Christa Kotiesen. I am an artist living in the Eastern Townships of Québec. In recent years, most of my artistic efforts have been channeled into two distinct but thematically related areas -landscape painting using soft pastels and hand-crafting hiking and walking sticks.
Although I have been an artist for many years, the landscape in and of itself was not my primary concern in the past. Until 2008 my work centred mainly on producing symbolist-type imagery using either acrylic paint or various print-making techniques. Then, I was introduced to the work of a local artist whose medium is soft pastels. I was impressed by her paintings and intrigued by the possibilities of the medium. Pastels are wonderfully versatile. One can create everything from soft, subdued tones with subtle colour variations to areas of bright, clear, fresh colour. Since then I have combined my love for the wonderful scenery around me and this challenging medium and continue to be charmed by both. My inspiration to date has come from scenes close to home and from maritime places where I feel at home: fog on a river, a clear vista over a valley, the meeting of sea and sky, etc., i.e., the dramatic effects produced by light, season, weather, and time of day on the natural world.
For examples of my paintings, click here.
I called my stick-making endeavour "Crowsticks" simply because I am fascinated by crows. I have spent many entertaining hours watching these intelligent, comic birds. A few years ago, I did a series of paintings on interactions between them and humans. The illustration on the front page of this web site is taken from one of these works. Only after selecting the name did I decide that it could be used as an acronym. So officially, "Crowsticks" stands for "Christa's really original walking sticks."
Making these walking and hiking sticks has allowed me to combine my love of the outdoors and my art. The paintings which decorate the sticks are all original designs created especially for this purpose. I handpaint each stick individually so that different versions of the same design will resemble each other but never be identical. Each rendition of a design will be numbered and no design will be repeated more than fifty times. Most designs can be adapted to either walking sticks, hiking staffs or natural canes if available.
Rather than selecting one of my designs, some customers have given me a theme and requested that I make a stick to represent it. If you are thinking of a stick for a special person or a special event, please do not hesitate to contact me with your proposal. You can see a few examples of custom orders by clicking here.
The staffs are all sugar maple stained light maple or dark walnut. Some of the sticks have a smoky, medium brown colour which I get by combining the maple and walnut stains. I mix and apply all of the stains by hand. The handles are solid brass in two styles:
The sticks are finished with a brass and steel ferrule or a rubber tip.
Sticks with rubber tips may be cut to the proper length by the user but the brass tipped ones should be ordered in the correct length. (To determine the correct length for a walking stick, stand straight, let your arms hang relaxed at your sides and measure the distance between the floor and the crease below your wrist bone. Make sure you are wearing your normal walking shoes.) For sticks with sugar maple staffs, the maximum length is 37"; however, longer staffs can be ordered.
For examples of my walking sticks, click here.
The availability of these depends on the amount of suitable material that my husband and I, and a few of our friends, find on our walks in the woods. This means that I cannot guarantee the type of wood that a stick is. I simply look for hardwood that seems sturdy and suitable. Each piece is dried for at least eight months before being worked. The staffs are fitted with a woven cotton strap, a wound cord hand rest and a rubber tip. They have all received three to four coats of varnish.
Not all the hiking staffs displayed are currently available; however, orders based on these models will be filled as soon as suitable material is ready. In placing an order you should indicate the length you want - typically, the stick should come to the top of the shoulder - and whether you want a light or a heavy stick.
Natural, or found canes have come by their shape through the forces of nature.