Rings of Fire

I am conjuring the perfect winter night. Cool, cleansing breaths stave off weary yawns at the days end. Frost glistens in the air and the Big Dipper lies low in the northeast sky. The stars are all aligning. It’s an ideal night for a bonfire.

An outdoor winter fire is just another great reason to go outside and embrace the joy that can be found in winter. Light a fire to celebrate the Winter Solstice, blaze your way into a New Year, fan the flames of romance on Valentine’s Day or just celebrate an awesome day of outdoor wintery fun with the kids. It’s just another way to extend your day of winter play.
Randy Sutherland plays with fire for a living. As a metal fabricator he is pretty comfortable with a welding torch. Recently, he has been stretching the limits of his day to day work with some after-hours creative pursuits building wood stoves and custom fire rings that will take your bonfire experience to a whole new level.
His foray into fire rings caught on a few years ago after he became involved in the fabrication of the sculpture that was designed to celebrate the opening of the Pictou County Wellness Centre. The piece was commissioned by Frank and Debbi Sobey and designed by visual artist Chris Morrison. The sculpture titled Brigh, a Gaelic word meaning commitment, direction and dedication set Randy on a new course to realize some of his more artistic aspirations.
“Randy is a thinker and problem solver,” says Chris Morrison who worked closely with Randy and his colleague Andy MacGregor during the fabrication of the sculpture. “I know that the project was inspiring for him and I am glad that he has continued to expend on the creative side of his metal work.”
While Randy professes that the wood stoves and fire rings boil down to mostly metal and weld, there is a creative process of working with his clients to design signature patterns to make the pieces truly their own. The Stars and Moon design is still one of the most popular designs, and was actually a concept of his work colleague, but he has since worked on many different patterns from dragons to athletic logos.
“I am fascinated with architecture and can whittle away hours with design books. I dream of a day when I can imagine and create something completely of my own, however, the relationship that I create with my clients is just as important to me.”
When a person pulls a heat shield over their face you don’t really expect to also hear them talk about Feng Shui but it is something that really drives Randy and has implications on many aspects of his life including his approach to his work. His business is a reflection of these connections. Five Elements Designs speaks to the balance of nature that exists in fire, water, metal, earth and wood. He says he wants to create things that bring all of these elements together.
“I love the idea of a family sitting around the fire and having a good time together. Making things that people enjoy and gives them comfort inspires me.”
I imagine a fire burning in Randy’s Stars and Moon Fire Ring. I can see all of these elements of Mother Earth working together. There is a kaleidoscope of colours that change as the fire consumes the different organic compounds in the wood. I see myself drawing nearer because that’s what happens when you put a fire on.

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Crystal Murray
Crystal likes to think about her forays in journalism like interval training. " I have had a wonderful freedom to be home when I needed to be and work when the spirit moved me. In the spaces between I have learned things about myself, my family and my community that I hope will find a rightful place in the new and refreshed pages of At Home on the North Shore. "