Tuesday, 28 July 2009


This post is about extreme green woodwork. The wood was cut 3 weeks ago and came from the same log as the totem pole sculptures in the previous post. This green oak plank has been sitting outside in full sun and rain since then. The hole in the middle is a dead knot hole that has been rotting out in the tree. This is not the way to treat wood and it had hundreds of splits in it.

I have done a lot of sculptures similar to this, using the same technique, but always out of first grade well seasoned wood. I am cautious by nature and usually over engineer everything I make. Wood, being a natural material, is difficult to use, it splits, warps, rots, and behaves in all sorts of ways that can make life difficult for the craftsman or end user.

This technique uses an Arbotech which is a wood cutting disc that fits onto an angle grinder, it can cut a groove about 20mm deep by 8mm wide in one pass. It is an excellent tool for carving, but noisy, dusty and potentially very dangerous.

These sculptures have about half their original weight and mass of wood removed. Everything I do to the wood feels technically wrong, I am making the wood weaker, I am burning it with a propane roofers torch, and then some of them spend the rest of their lives in the garden.

The sculptures so far have been made from 40mm thick wood, this is because the depth of cut with the Arbotech is limited to about 15 -20mm. The tools also limit the type of line I can cut, tight circles are out. I often draw a few key shapes and lines on the wood, but the Arbotech is usually used freehand. It is easy to go off line, and cut wood that should be left, the tool throws up a lot of waste shavings so it can be difficult to see where I am cutting. The tool cuts very fast even at full cutting depth.
I like the quality of line and form that comes from working this way, there is a beauty that comes from repetitive work done fast and well, even if it is not perfect

The form and shape is not perfect, it wiggles about, it is organic and natural, if these where made perfect in every respect, for example cut with a CNC router they would have a very different feel. They would lose the energy and life they have when each one is hand crafted. I often repeat designs, but each one is very much an unique work, because I carve freehand.

I usually treat the sculpture with a preservative or finish of some kind, this is because I am attached to the need to sell work that lasts, to finish and make presentable.

I have always been fascinated with time and decay, often keeping flowers in a vase until all water has evaporated and the dead flowers dried out. Why can we only appreciate fresh flowers and why is decay always discarded? I have often found beauty in unusual places and things.
I have a wing sculpture which is a cock-up, and a tall thin monolith which I have not treated or even finished to my usual standard. These are in pride and place in our garden. The monolith is a perching place for anyone of the hooded crows that raid the bird table.
The sculptures are changing slowly over the years and will one day decay and fall to the ground. I like this process: art that returns to the ground, transient, and not possible to hoard as an investment. Art for the now.

I am presently looking for a gallery to represent me and these sculptures. I am also looking to make far larger work which I can only do to commission.