by Bob Groeneveld
Special to the Langley Advance
Megan Zurak discovered her art in a couple of boxes of leftover oak flooring.
She thought about that beautiful oak, did some research, and decided to make a sign for her home.
Zurak grew up in northern B.C., in Chetwynd, about 100 kilometres west of Dawson Creek.
She left that town of 2,600 for Alberta, eventually ending up in Langley in 2010, to complete her bachelor of social work degree at University of the Fraser Valley.
She went to work at Langley Community Services Society as a family counsellor, got married in 2012, and when the family grew with the arrival of Jack Marko Zurak in 2013, she found herself needing to change her focus for a while. (The family grew again in January when Emily Brooks was born.)
“I realized that my heart was ready to put my career on hold and focus on creating a family with my wonderful husband Craig,” she explained.
She left LCSS and became a full-time mom.
It was while cleaning up the basement one day that she came across those boxes of oak.
Her father, a contractor, was storing his tools in Zurak’s family garage after downsizing from a large bungalow to a condo.
“I quickly learned how to operate the mitre saw and electric sander and began experimenting with different stains and paints,” she said. “Inspiration came from everywhere.”
Soon she found herself busy creating signs for people out of her garage near Willoughby.
After getting a serious start to her craft just last September, her first Christmas season was particularly busy.
She explained that there can be more to creating a sign than a first glance might suggest: “The process of creating a sign entails cutting to size, assembling with construction grade glue, sanding the surface and staining – sometimes with a chalk paint overlay – and distressing.”
A quote, saying, or picture is added, either from her own inspiration or at a customer’s request, and is created for the customer’s approval.
“From there,” she continued, “I stencil and hand paint the lettering.”
Finally, she finishes with an indoor or outdoor sealant, depending on where the sign will eventually hang. That final touch ensures easy cleaning.
“I love creating pieces that will make my clients smile,” she proudly asserted.
Her signs play into her desire for organization: “So I enjoy coming up with new and fun ideas to keep homes tidy.”
Children’s art display signs or custom coat hangers are examples of that side of her work.
“I am open for challenges,” she added, “and love to keep my clients informed while I create, because I want every customer to walk away with something they love as much as I loved creating it.”
A special reward for Zurak is knowing that she is creating something beautiful from “material that may have otherwise ended up in a landfill.”
Zurak will have her handiwork on display at a booth near McBurney Lane during Arts Alive this weekend.
She was encouraged to take part in the festival by her mother, who had attended last year and thought it would be a great place to present her talent to the general public.
You can also check her out on Facebook page.