Wood is a very light material that can be easily cut, and allows for very fine detail. It’s also much easier to sculpt than stone. Readily prevalent and versatile, wood has always been an attractive medium for artists to work with. The traditional carving tools used most often include chisels, knives, gouges, and hammers.
The Delicacy of WoodMany important sculptures in the Orient are made of wood. Woodwork is also a huge part of Africa’s traditions. Most African wearable masks and ornaments are made of wood. You can also see woodcarving in many Native artworks for more about Native art check out this blog post.
For some master artisans, wood is an irreplaceable material that allows them to express their thoughts and imagination like no other. They need to have a deep connection and knowledge about wood to be able to bring to life the best possible art pieces using it.
In some cultures, even today, this ancient art form involves skilled techniques by master artisans, who pass their knowledge on to new generations. However, wooden artifacts are vulnerable to decay, insect damage, and fire. Wooden artifacts are not as durable or lasting as artworks made of stone or bronze. Consequently, special care must be taken to preserve these artifacts.
Crafting with WoodWood, of course, comes from a 'living material', and its characteristics vary according to the species of tree. Each type of wood has a unique density, shape and colour. For example, hardwood can be difficult to work with, but allows a superior level of quality and precision. Softwood, on the other hand, is easier to sculpt because it offers less resistance, but it’s less durable.
The trunk is the largest part of the tree, and is generally the starting point for woodcarvers. But even the branches can offer great possibilities. It's also interesting to note that the seasons will play a part in the artist's choices, since temperature and humidity affect the characteristics of the wood. The wood from a tree cut in spring is very different from one cut in winter. And the knots and cracks in the wood will often have a major impact on the woodcarver's artistic choices. The living, fibrous nature of wood imparts these artworks with a particularly warm and vibrant character.
The Great Northwest has a rich resource in its forests. The famous native artist, Bill Reid is renowned world-wide for his amazing wood art. There's a lot to benefit by getting out and exploring. So get out there, explore your surroundings, and discover the beauty of the trees all around you.