Thursday, December 30, 2010
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Over 80 artisans and artists participated creating over 300 objects for the auction. Objects included benches, tables, carvings, lamps, bowls, vases and an electric guitar. There was even a mobile made from paper from Herbie. The auction was held two weeks ago and netted $25,000 for the arbor fund. Click on the links to see an article on the auction and a video of a news report on the entire story.
These turned and carved vases were made by Jacques Veresy.
Reclaiming the wood from any old tree is a great idea but I think that using the wood from an important historical tree is very special. Apparantly The people at Historical Woods of America agree with me. Visit there website and find out more.
Have you ever crafted something out of wood from a special old tree?
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Personally, there is no other period of time which has produced so many pieces of art that can take my breath away. Walking through a Greene and Greene home gives me more pleasure than eating an ice cream sundae…and at zero calories. My wife and I had the opportunity to tour the Gamble House in Pasadena, CA, a beautiful city which is the “Mecca” of Arts and Crafts on the West Coast. The house was built in 1908 as the winter retreat for the son of the founder of Proctor & Gamble. It was designed by the upstart young architect brothers, Charles and Henry Greene, who had just been to the World Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, where they became influenced by Japanese architecture. The whole place is a symphony in wood. Mahogany, teak, maple, oak and cedar. Each room is a new treat. The joinery, the carving, the details! It’s an overdose of some of the best wood craftsmanship I have ever seen. If you are ever near Pasadena, a tour of this National Historic Landmark should be on you itinerary.
If you’re stuck on the East Coast but still want some indulging Arts and Crafts desserts, I recommend the Gustav Stickley exhibit at the Newark Museum going on until Jan 2, 2011. I was especially impressed by the inlay work in some of the pieces. See Stickley chair on the left.
If that isn’t enough dessert for you, I suggest the special exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City called “The Artistic Furniture of Charles Rohlfs”. It ends Jan 23, 2011. See Rohlfs chair on the right.
Immerse yourself in the pleasures of Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau as I am doing, and let me know what you think.
Monday, September 27, 2010
As crude as that early experience might have been, my recent experiences have not been much better. I have taken up the art of pyrography, which means I have invested in a decent burner transformer unit, a few tips of assorted shapes and a tip holder pen. I’m just a beginner, and still in the experimentation stage, but I’m starting to really enjoy this new hobby.
I am very fortunate to have a cigar superstore about 5 miles from my house. They sell empty wooden cigar boxes for one dollar each, ten for $6.00. There are sitting in a huge crate right near the entrance to the store, which doesn’t seem to stay full very long. I’ve been stocking up on boxes for several months now. Some of these boxes are very well made out of solid exotic woods with beautifully crafted box joint corners. Why do I feel like I’ve just given away my secret? Oh well, there are lots of boxes to go around.
This new interest of mine combines art with recycling, which makes me feel good about the enterprise in general. I’m still not sure what I will be doing with the finished boxes, but Christmas is coming up and they might make good gifts.
Have you ever tried pyrography? Have you ever tried to turn old cigar boxes into new works of art?
Monday, August 9, 2010
What do you think? Which spoon shape would you prefer using? Perhaps you would rather use a straight, symmetrical, old-fashioned wooden spoon instead of one with a curvy shape.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
My wife and I took a weekend trip to northwestern Pennsylvania, to attend a regional woodcarving show at the Sawmill Arts Center in Cook Forest State Park. The show was enjoyable, but the highlight of the trip was a hike through an amazing old growth forest of ancient white pine and hemlock trees aptly named: “the Forest Cathedral”. The big ones were over 36 inches wide and over 150 feet tall. Most of these giants were over 300 years old. The forest floor was covered with fallen tree trunks and, as Longfellow said, blanketed with moss and ferns. I took photos, but they just don’t do justice to the grandeur of the place.
Sunday, June 6, 2010
What has been your experience with regional wood carving shows?
Thursday, April 29, 2010
There are some interesting things to consider when building a birdhouse. For instance, the size of the entrance hole and height above the floor of the birdhouse is very important to appeal to the right species of bird. Also, the popular perch stick is just below the entrance hole is not needed, nor recommended. It provides a place for predators to sit and wait. Another feature to prevent hungry squirrels from chewing through the hole area is to reinforce the hole with a ¾” thick block of wood, making the entrance passage longer. All the specifications and suggestions you will need are on the internet. If you are interested, go to the following websites: http://www.wild-bird-watching.com/Building_Bird_Houses.html. or http://baltimorebirdclub.org/by/house.html
Sunday, April 11, 2010
I first read “A Reverence for Wood” back in the early 1970’s and remember being totally captivated by it. I have re-read it many times since then. It’s my kind of book, lots of interesting illustrations, all by Eric Sloane himself. It is also a historical book about “the old ways” of making practical things out of wood. It shows that our ancestors had close relationship and intimate understanding of wood that, for the most part, has been lost by our present generation. It is a book about history and the ingenuity of the early American pioneers. It has definitely been an influence on my life and my pursuit of woodcraft.
I was not going to post this entry on my blog since I couldn’t imagine my blog visitors, most of who are interested in woodworking, as not having already read “A Reverence for Wood”. It is practically required reading for anyone interested in wood. But then I thought perhaps there are people out there, especially visitors from other parts of the world, who may never have heard of the book. But even if you have read the book before, it is worth getting a copy and going through it again. Every time I open it, it gives me a new incentive to go make something out of wood.
Have you read “A Reverence for Wood”? What are your thoughts about the book, or other books by Eric Sloane?
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Kara Gebhart Uhl is no novice when it comes to knowledge of wood and wood working. She has done many articles for Woodworking Magazine and Popular Woodworking. She obviously knows the difference between a spokeshave and a skew chisel. She also knows the importance of preserving our natural forest heritage. Read the article and tell me what you think.
Also...do a Google image search for “old growth forest”. You’ll discover some amazing pictures.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
There were piles of large cut chunks. My car is conditioned to stop upon approaching such tree cutting sites. I started roaming the piles. A workman shouted “Hey, what are you doing?” I explained that I was a wood carver looking for some wood. The foreman intervened. He allowed me to take two pieces. I grabbed a nice cherry stump that was 18 inches in diameter. He pointed out a box elder chunk that was about the same size. It was just cut and the red color streaks were very bright. It looked like it was bleeding.
I carted my trophies home in the trunk of my car. From my exuberance, you would have thought I just won a gold medal in the Olympics. I began to picture the boxes I could make out of the wood after it dries. As usual, my wife though I was crazy.
Monday, February 8, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
My recent research all started with the movie “Avatar”. (Great movie. Go see it in 3D.) In the movie, the great “Tree of Souls” is destroyed by the ruthless and greedy exploiters of the mineral resources of the planet. There is enough symbolism here to keep a discussion group busy for months. This giant tree is analogous to Yggdrasil, the great Tree of Life in Norse mythology.
Researching Yggdrasil I came across the website of an interesting music group from England called Moksha (see: http://www.mokshaproductions.com/.) (More on Moksha some other time.) Moksha’s website links to a video called: The Wild Horses of Newbury, which just blew my mind. It’s about the unexplainable spirituality of the old trees, a spirituality that we as a modern, progressive society, just can’t comprehend. Go to: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4171383607583139639 . Watch this video and tell me what you think.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
The Rupintojelis image started as an a representation of a suffering human but, after Christianity came to Lithuania, the image gradually evolved into Christ, the Man of Sorrows, pondering all the ills of humanity. All emphasis is placed on the facial expression of deep thought and infinite sorrow. From what I understand, Rupintojelis can be seen along the roadside and in cemeteries throughout Lithuania…and of course at every tourist gift shop.
Some say the pose represents Jesus' anticipation of his crucifixion, after his scourging and crowning with thorns. Others say it depicts Christ after the resurrection and not yet ascended. Polish people have their version of the rupintojelis. It is very similar. They call it Chrystus Frasobliwy. One Polish legend says Christ travelled through the world with his crown of thorns. Tired from his journey, he sat on stones near the road and wept. This statue means many things to many people. Lithuanian Christians believe it shows how Christ was human and one of us. He shared our feelings and concerns. In it they see God's endless compassion and care for his people.Here is a photo of contemporary wood sculptor Julius Urbanavičius with his wfe and one of his Rupintojelis sculptures. As you can see, some of them get pretty large.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
The introduction to the book by Ruta Saliklis gave me great insight into the Lithuanians’ close personal affinity to wood and wood sculpture throughout their history. If you have been reading my blog, you know that this personal harmony with wood, and the spiritual nature of trees, is a recurring theme. Here is an excerpt from the Introduction of the book:
“Vast Forests once covered Lithuania. Evidence of the importance of woods in Lithuanian culture can be found in folklore, religion and mythology. The Lithuanian language itself shows the importance by the numerous words for woods, depending on the type of trees within them. Lithuanians see wood not merely as an organism, but as a vibrant living entity. Thus traditionally a tree can only be chopped down during the dormancy of winter. In pre-Christian times certain groves of trees were considered sacred and no one (not even the King) would dare cut a tree from such a grove, or even take wood from the ground.”
The entire subject of Lithuanian wood sculpture and folk art is very interesting for a number of reasons. First, the Lithuanians were the last of the Europeans to be Christianized. This happened in the late 14th century. The close connection to their pagan past, as well as the conversion of pagan symbols to Christian ones, is reflected in their wooden sculpture. Also, they have been many political changes over the past few centuries. A great deal of their wooden sculpture is an expression of their resentment to occupation and oppression by other nations. Much of this is done in a coded message of symbols included in the carved object. The book goes into wonderful detail about the history of Lithuanian wood folk sculpture; more than I can talk about here.
Most northern European cultures (German, Polish, Danish, etc.) were big on wood carving, but it seems that the Lithuanians had them all beat. I get the feeling that every Lithuanian baby is given a set of carving gouges along with a teething ring.
Most of the sculpted wood carvings shown in the book are now on display at the Lithuanian Museum of Art in Lemont, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. I would enjoy going there someday to experience this art in person.
Are you familiar with Lithuanian wood carvings and their significance? If not, you might enjoy doing some research on Google. Tell me what you think.