Bob Hastings an Artist in Wood

Bob Hastings and an Unusual Wood Bowl

June is Seniors' month but Bob Hastings is one of those seniors who is constantly looking for a challenge - no rocking chair on the porch for him.

Hastings is a woodworker 'par excellence' and his workshop is filled with wood shavings emitting the smell of fresh wood.   Here, he spends many hours and, just a sculptor has the ability to bring a creative piece out of his medium, so too, does Hastings with wood.    "I never throw anything away," he says.  "Even a knarled piece of wood can be turned into something of beauty," he says as he holds up an example that he will eventually turn into a candleholder.

Turning wood and turning out unusual pieces requires a seemingly never ending supply of wood and Hastings' workshop and basement are filled with many kinds of woods still drying.  "Some of the wood has been drying for 10 years," he explains, "which isn't bad when you consider it takes one year for one inch to dry completely.

A graduate from the University of Waterloo, Hastings taught for more than 25 years from James Bay to Port Elgin.  With a specialty in Design and Technology, he taught young students in Grades 6 to 8 and also young adults in Special Needs groups.  He also designed and conducted community woodworking programs known as the 'After-four Sessions' for five to 10-year-olds and the Children's Woodworking Centre at the Durham Wood Show.

In addition to spending time in the classroom, he also promoted workshops for Ontario teachers of primary and junior children and taught instructors at the University of Toronto's Faculty of Education.  Hastings was also a graduate of the University of Toronto's Design and Technology Specialist Course and taught at Saugeen District Secondary School in Port Elgin.  

Bob Hastings shows the book that changed many classrooms

His book the 'Woodworking Centre: K to 3 an introduction to wood technology' has been used by many teachers and is recognized as a format for teachers to interest young students in the creativity of working with wood.

In his book, Hastings has written, "The process of construction is where much learning takes place. These paths to the final outcome are where young children hypothesize, test, observe and then confirm or re-evaluate their understanding of their world ... Children should be the construction supervisors of the process and .... adult intervention should be offered in a quiet, positive, cooperative way.  Kids seldom add anything to their masterpiece without a reason.  The child's explanation will assuredly remind us that our lack of imagination often muddies our perception."

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His dedication and commitment to his vocation of teaching and his avocation of woodturning has won Hastings several awards over the years and, still, he keeps his fingers in the pie of education, teaching adults who have a mental illness at the drop-in centre in Owen Sound every Monday night.   "Sometimes, just showing an interest in what they can do, helps them immeasurably," he adds.

While his first love may be wood, Hastings also enjoys gardening and creating pieces from whatever is handy.  Pointing to what appears to be a piece of art on the wall, he explains that,  "This is just pieces of driftwood I've put together and hung on the wall."


Then he picks up something that appears to be a vase covered with holes but having a surface that is soft like velvet.  "This is a seed pod from the Banksia tree.  I turn them and, to me, they look like beautiful."

Everywhere you turn are exquisitely turned bowls, vases, candleholders and objects d'art.  It's clear that Bob Hastings has an eye for finding beauty in what, to many, may simply appear as a piece of wood

A stick with a can nailed to it and some strings can make a child's first musical instrument.

Exquisite wood turnings

Yet another piece of wood is prepared