Crafts that score

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Hilson Avenue Public School teacher Mike Patriquin turns old hockey sticks into pretty cool stuff. Photo by Andrea Tomkins

In Mike Patriquin’s hands, a broken hockey stick has still got game. It can become a picture frame, a province on a map of Canada or even a bottle opener. Patriquin’s creations, made of recycled materials, delighted hockey fans and craft aficionados at the Fisher Park Community Recreation Centre’s Christmas Craft Show and Sale on December 7.

Patriquin, a Grade 5 Middle French Immersion teacher at Hilson Avenue Public School, spends about one evening a week turning discarded wooden hockey sticks, licence plates and weathered barn wood into popular items that he sells at craft fairs, through his Brokenstick.ca website to buyers across Canada and the U.S., and wholesale to shops in Ottawa and Montreal. One of his picture frames has been on display at Hintonburger, and he’s exhibited a custom chair made of hockey sticks at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Patriquin’s love of working with wood and recycled materials comes from spending time as a boy with family at his grandfather’s shed in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. “He used to do all sorts of stuff with objects that he had found in the garbage—he used to call it ‘liberating’ items from the garbage,” says Patriquin of his grandfather.

Patriquin’s first project was a picture frame made of hockey sticks for his dad’s birthday about eight years ago. “I jokingly wrote ‘one of a limited edition of 500’ on the back,” says Patriquin, who says he’s sold about 550 since then.

Using local and recycled materials and producing as little waste as possible are important to Patriquin. He finds old wooden hockey sticks at garage sales, online or arena garbage bins. Wooden sticks are increasingly hard to come by, so Patriquin also uses wood from old barns and metal from vintage licence plates, sourced online and in local antique shops. The plates become roofs for wooden birdhouses, or shaped into Canada’s provinces for wood-mounted maps.

“People contact me with interesting ideas,” says Patriquin, who also takes on custom projects.

Working with wood complements Patriquin’s teaching. “I need to do something with my hands sometimes when I have no voice at the end of the day,” he laughs. “It’s a different type of creativity, because I have a pretty creative job, but it’s hands-on creativity.”

He’s introduced his students to simple building projects, and he’s helped his daughter, 5, to complete her first birdhouse.

Woodworking is a hobby, says Patriquin, who also has a business degree. He’s turned down requests that were more than he wanted to take on. “I like to have fun with it,” he explains.

Patriquin, who grew up near the Civic Hospital and Elmdale and now lives in Carlington, has brought his work to the Fisher Park craft sale for the past four or five years. “Fisher Park is great, because it’s word of mouth and it’s community,” he says. “It’s kind of where I grew up, so I get to see current students, former students, old family friends… it’s great fun; I really enjoy it.”

Check out some of Patriquin’s projects online at www.brokenstick.ca.

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