SCULPTORS' MATERIALS #5: WOOD

SCULPTORS' MATERIALS: WOOD

 
Welcome to the #5 email in our series on Sculptors' Materials. This week we are looking at the use of wood in sculpture over time.

From initially being used for votive and religious sculptures to then working its way into abstract forms, wood has been used to create art for thousands of years, common to all cultures both as a tool and a medium in itself.

The abundance of wood, it’s softness and relative ease of use, and the desirable qualities of hardiness, strength and versatility have meant that wood has flourished throughout history. The natural colour, pattern, grain and warmth of various types of wood creates very different effects, and when taken care of properly, wood can last a very long time. However, if not looked after it can be susceptible to rot or decay, making the ancient wooden sculptures that have lasted hundreds of years true treasures in Art History.

Carving is by far the most common technique used and includes many different applications - from bas-relief to life-size figures, and from furniture to architecture. It has been argued that wood carving is the simplest technique, as it is possible to achieve with nothing more than a sharp stone and a lump of wood. However it is a dedicated and detailed process that involves a great deal of patience and passion. Traditionally, wood was worked using hand tools, but this has now evolved into the use of power tools, chainsaws and even digital machining processes to carve wood in all shapes and sizes.