Update effective July 30, 2015 – Blue Heron Steel Studio has moved to #16-1343 Alberni Highway. The new phone number is: 250-586-2477
You find the darndest things in the craziest places. Nelson Shaw’s Blue Heron Steel Studio is a prime example of that, tucked away in a gritty spot on an obscure lot in the heart of Qualicum Beach. But as is so often the case, location isn’t everything when it comes to finding the best ‘stuff’, whether it be restaurants, accommodation or, in this case, exquisite art work. Excellence trumps location sometimes and in the case of this most unique gallery/art studio that is certainly the case.
There are more surprises at the Blue Heron studio than you can possibly imagine, among them the owner himself. A talented and formally-trained artist who has earned a Masters in Fine Arts, artist-in-residence posts and art scholarships, Nelson is an affable guy most often encountered with grubby hands, dressed in grimy clothes – as befits an artist who works not with pen and brush, but with steel, wood, glass and machinery. His ‘studio’ is a jumbled mass of work tables, art-in-progress and the equipment required to create his stunning and most unusual works.
The ‘gallery’ attached to the workshop displays a huge variety of Nelson’s unique creations. The lighting in the display space isn’t perfect and there is sometimes dust on the shelves thanks to the close proximity of the workshop, but visitors are invariably blown away by the scope and innovation of the works crammed onto shelves and every square inch of floor space. What always amazes us is the intricacy and fine design aspect of works wrought from materials that are not generally considered useful for detailed artistic endeavours.
Nelson’s unique larger-than-life blue herons, crafted from recycled steel, are his signature pieces but there is also a huge variety of other garden and home décor available for purchase. Garden benches, beautifully-framed mirrors, wall hangings and three-dimensional works crafted in concert with the glass creations of partner artists consume much of the display space. Custom metal work created for clients is often on display (we saw an exquisite small table on our last visit). And, if you are just looking for a small garden accent there is lots to choose from in that genre as well, from colourful and inventive bugs to dragonflies, to turtles. There are whimsical, quirky pieces and serious works, all of which reveal what a talented craftsman Nelson is. Blue Heron is a wonderful spot to shop for gifts – all of the pieces found there are one-of-a-kind, making for charming and unique gifts that will enhance the home or garden of any recipient.
In a nutshell, Nelson can create almost anything your heart desires. He has been employed to create pieces for everything from multi-million dollar award-winning homes to artful garden gates. No matter how small your home or garden it’s worth popping into Blue Heron if you are seeking something truly unique to enhance your personal environment. Even if you don’t see anything suitable (highly unlikely) you will be guaranteed to enjoy the experience of seeing the work of this very talented artisan. Take the time to flip through his photo albums, too, to see the wide scope of his ability. As it says on his website: Hard work is good. Good work is hard. And Nelson Shaw is one hard worker!
Further information on Blue Heron Steel Studio can be found at the website:
Blue Heron Steel Studio is located at Suite B (bottom of the parking lot), 127 Fern Road East, in the heart of Qualicum Beach. Look for Nelson’s Blue Heron and his sign, just half a block south of the traffic light at Memorial Ave. and Fern Road
GPS co-ordinates are:
Lat. 49.346417008946915 Long. -124.4402923080691
N 49 20.785 W 124 26.418