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December 14
12:51 2018

Some people are fortunate to find their passion and make it their career, while others are still searching and even more never manage to find it. For Frank Malic, a wood carver for over 38 years, there’s no question where his passion lies.

Malik, owner of Roots Man Wood Carving Shop has managed to keep his household going, feed his family and put his kids through school doing what he loves most, carving, filing and sanding wood. Malic, born and raised in Belize City, said that he found his calling to be an artisan in his youth, after seeing the potential for self-employment.

He stressed that the industry is one that calls for dedication because a single piece can take days to finish, but that the finished product can establish you in the industry for years to come. When it comes to his mark on the industry, Malic has pieces displayed prominently in several major businesses in Belize such as Atlantic Bank, the Belize Tourism Board, Heritage Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Insurance Corporation of Belize. Malic is known for works such as boats, dolphins, sharks, abstract pieces depicting females and even does decorated canes.

His passion for the craft runs so deep his advice to those wishing to get into the business is to come see him at the Tourist Village, so he can give them pointers and even training.

A science to the art

While Malic’s major masterpieces come from his wood carvings, he has managed to branch out over the years to include baskets made from wild vines “ti tie,” bamboo, stone works carved in slate, and jewelry from sea shells and other materials. He stressed that creating each piece has its own essential steps that can ultimately ruin the piece if not followed correctly.

“I work with raw logs. But just like the logs, you have to cut the bamboo and ti tie on the right moon. If you don’t the piece will deteriorate after a while. But if you catch it on the right moon, it will last forever,” Malic said.

He travels to various places all over the country for his raw materials, such as Rancho Dolores in the Belize District for his vines, and Black Rock in the Cayo district for his slate. Each material has its own unique way that it needs to be handled as he goes about transforming them into unforgettable works of art.

“Like with the slate, everything has to be done by hand. I do that with a small knife because if you use a machine it will vibrate the stone and break it,” Malic added.

For his wood works, Malic said he looks at a raw log and visualizes what it will be based on the shape. He then makes markings on the log in pencil and begins to hack away at it with a machete to begin the initial shaping process. After several hacks and pencil line ups, he takes a hand rasper and begins smoothing out the wood before putting four different grades of sandpaper to it (80, 150, 220, and 400). He also uses sanding sealer to close up the pores of the wood and give it a smooth finish.

Challenges of the business

Malic said that like all businesses there are factors that can negatively affect the day to day business of artisans like himself. He noted that the location allotted to the artisans to sell (behind old Mirab in the Tourist Village area) has posed a problem, because the majority of tourists that enter the village never come in their direction, causing them to lose out on thousands of potential customers. He also noted that everything in the business requires some kind of license which comes at a cost. Malic underscored that before he can even sell a piece he needs a license from the Forestry Department, City Council and Fisheries Department, each one with its own price tag attached.

Those interested in checking out what Malic had to offer or wanting their own custom work of greatness can get in touch with him at 623-8074 or 202-0280, or visit his stall which is the first one on the right after the old Mirab building.

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