Randy Swope, started carving in 1968, whittling little men creations with his favourite possession of the day, a pocket knife.
The chainsaw carver, lamp-worker, jewelry maker and owner of the artisan shop Beadifferent in Hope is self-taught and began his lifelong love affair with wood when he was eight years old.
Randy has been carving for over 48 years, and inherited Beadifferent from his daughter Carla, after taking a jewelry making class from her. Carla started the shop twelve years ago, and decided to relocate to Chilliwack to teach jewelry craftsmanship at UFV in 2010, when Randy decided to take it on.
“My daughter showed me what she learned, and I just carried on from there,” he told The Hope Standard.
The store is filled with an intricate, diverse, and stunning collection of beads, jewelry, wood carvings, lamps, accessories and supplies for artisans old and new, or aspiring craftsmen of the future. Randy’s shop is hard to miss with its purple facade, right in front of District Hall.
All the jewelry in the store is handmade by Randy and his wife Cheryl. The titillating collection is a combination of beads from about a dozen or so wholesalers around the planet.
“I’m constantly making jewelry,” he said. “Some day’s more than others — I do carvings too.”
Beadifferent is an eclectic mix of bark carvings, Sasquatches, and even miniature Rambo carvings, all delicately hand carved by Randy.
One of the largest carvings, the kind and mild mannered artist has undertaken, is a ten foot Sasquatch that’s located in Harrison Hot Springs. He currently has two carvings in Harrison and six located in Hope.
Randy served as a judge during Hope’s 2015 Chainsaw Carving Competition and spent four years of his career competing. As for competitions in the future, Randy’s humble response was, “I leave that for the young guys now.”
Custom orders are par for the course, as Randy strives to perfect customer requests, including some unusual ones like a two and a half foot pineapple carving.
“It was odd,” he said.
Randy has done just about every type of work to make a living over the years.
His diverse resume features him working in a grocery store, as a logger, managing a soap factory and working in plastic fabricating (sheets of plastic you weld back into a fire truck tank.)
Beadifferent was liberating for the grounded artist who enjoys being at a place in life that he’s comfortable.
“It’s nice to be my own boss after 45 years of slave labour,” he said.
Beadifferent offers specialized carving, lamp working, and jewelry making courses.
“There’s a million different ways to make a piece of jewelry,” he said. “I will just show someone what they need to know.”
For more information contact Randy at 604-869-9608.