Sculptor Spends 4 Years Sculpting World’s Longest Wooden Masterpiece by Dan Edmund

Stuart Hood recommended this article copied from Buzznick .   Highly recommended.   If anyone else has ideas for this weekly post, please let me know using the “contact us” feature on the club website.

When most people see a fallen tree, they think nothing of it. Unless it happens to fall in your yard, then you might think of the cost to remove the tree. And an opportunist might even see the potential for firewood, but most would not think to carve the entire tree into an intricate work of art. However, most people are not Zheng Chunhui, a Chinese artist, who is a master in wood carving. Wood carving has been a long-standing Chinese tradition dating back thousands of years. Artists train their whole lives perfecting their technique in carving intensely intricate figures into wood.  Zheng Chunhui recently unveiled his masterpiece called “Along the River During The Qingming Festival”. The masterpiece is a 3D carving done inside the trunk of a tree that depicts a painting by the same name that was completed over 1000 years ago by Zhang Zeduan (1085 to 1134 AD).

The original art was painted on hand scrolls and depicted the every day events at the Qingming Festival, a ceremony honoring their dead which involved prayers and sweeping of tombs on the 104th day after the Winter Solstice.  “Along the River During The Qingming Festival” focused on the activities that were held behind the scenes and showed the lifestyle and dress of regular people (rich and poor alike) from rural areas to the inner city.

Here is a picture of the original artwork painted on handscrolls. It is 5.28 meters long, that’s more than 17 feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zheng Chunhui uses the above painting as inspiration for his masterpiece which is over 12 meters long and 3 meters high. It depicts the 3 sections that the original artist showed of the Qingming Festival. The right of the art illustrates a rural section showing farmers in their fields with a path leading into the city. The city is located at the center where he portrays businesses including several restaurants, wine sellers, as well as other vendors that stretch across the rainbow bridge. Once across the rainbow bridge, the festival gets more animated as it leads into the more urban part of the city which depicts cargo being loaded onto ships, more businesses including a tax office, as well as private residences.  The detail is simply incredible, which you can see in the following pictures:

It took Zheng Chunhui 4 years to complete the sculpture with its amazing and intricate detail. He is even in the Guinness Book Of World Records for the longest continuous wood sculpture in the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The detail is remarkable! Especially compared with the painting. You can even see where a rope is being lowered to a barge to help keep it from running into the bridge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When you see how much detail is going into this sculpture, it’s hard to believe it only took 4 years to complete!

 

Here is a video of the sculpture on display in Fuzhou, Fujian Province.  This puts the enormity of the piece in a little more prospective that you can’t get from a still photograph.

 

Dan Edmund says “I would love to be able to visit this carving to study the detail in person. Zheng Chunhui must have an incredibly steady hand and limitless patience to be able to complete such a beautiful work of art!”         I too would love to see this, but it will have to be after COVID

 

 

 

 

Memories of our club trip to Cuckooland in Tabley, Knutsford Cheshire by Gillian Smith

Gill says :-

Last week when we all turned the clocks back one hour, we may have moaned about the few clocks and gadgets we had to alter.  Next day an article in The Times reminded me of when 17 of our members visited Cuckooland and the brothers Roman and Maz Piekarski gave us a guided tour round their collection of over 700 clocks. Twice a year (Spring and Autumn  ) they are still changing their clocks, taking nearly two days to complete the task.

Roman and Maz are horologists and clock restorers.  Over their careers of 35 years, they have sought and renovated the rarest and most notable examples of cuckoo clocks and over items.

We visited in 2015 and their worry then was who would take their collection over when they finished. They wanted it to be kept as a complete collection, they feared German collectors would break it up and cherry pick the best. Well 5 years on they and their collection are still together and taking two days to alter the hour twice a year. They are also woodcarvers and repair broken clocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To see more photos, see our club report of the visit :https://landcwoodcarvers.co.uk/trip-to-cuckooland-museum/

The Cuckooland Website Gallery:    http://cuckoolandmuseum.com/gallery.html    Telephone the owners to arrange a visit. View by appointment only.

Here is a  video showing the workings of a Beha echo cuckoo clock photographed by an American visitor.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LxkSld0YQDI

Report by Gillian Smith

 

Enquiries into a “New” Wood – Accoya by Richard Colbran

Accoya is the trade name for a chemically-treated radiata pine which has improved rot-resistance and stabilty for out-door applications.
 The wood is acetylated, which diminishes its affinity for water, so that its change of moisture content with climate variation is much reduced, as its susceptibility to rot.
 There is a 25 year warranty on timber in water or in the ground, and a 50 year warranty for outside timber exposed to climatic variation.
 Outdoor hardwood carvings (oak, elm) have had to be replaced after about 10 years maximum irrespective of the finish applied, so this timber is of great interest, but how good is it to carve?
  A species of pine with a subdued stripy grain, it is firm and quite hard when carving across the grain, but rather splitty when cutting along the grain.  This means that extra thought must be given to direction of cut when carving.  Also, the summer wood, between the   stripes, is a bit crumbly in places, so tools must be sharp.  But the much higher resistance to decay makes it worth considering for any outside project.
 Being chemically treated means that the wood’s properties for application of glues and finishes are affected, but there is a wealth of information in the following links.
 I was lucky enough to be given a sample to try out, but the only supplier I have come across is the following
 Advice on wood finishing was obtained from: https://wood-finishes-direct.com
 “Thank you for getting in touch with your enquiry. You could take a look at the Sadolin Extra Durable Clearcoat >>> https://www.wood-finishes-direct.com/product/sadolin-extra-durable-clearcoat and exterior product that is close to the Sikkens in durability. 
​ I would recommend a test area first and allowing that test area to cure for a day or two, then check for good adhesion and you may find that wiping over with Methylated Spirits first may also help.
​ Osmo do recommend their products for Accoya and depending on the project, you could look at the exterior oils to use along side the WR Basecoat >>> https://www.wood-finishes-direct.com/product/osmo-wr-base-coat again with test areas.”
 Picture of “Work in Progress” to illustrate the timber and carving result so far.

Hedgehog carving on post in Towneley park

Richard with the finished work in place in Towneley Park

Holiday in Stathpeffer

In those halcyon before Covid, we had a holiday in Strathpeffer.      We even had a lesson in how to pronounce the name, as our pronunciation would be spelt with pp instead of ff.   In the old station area there were some huge carvings that I would like to share with you.   They were made by Alistair Brebner who had his wood carving on the old station platform where he carved the  Evolution Pillar.  His work can still be seen in a number of locations in the Raigmore hospital in Inverness.

Evolution Pillar with my wife to show how big it is

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are from his obituary

The carver at work

Gone for a brew?

 

Some close up shots I took to show the detail

 

 

 

 

Outside the station were more of his carvings

Carving in process

As I saw it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Canyon carving by Richard Colbran

Richard says – The photo was taken in Spring, with the sunshine and moving cloud shadows making kaleidoscopic patterns across the multi-coloured layers of rock.  Snow showers came rattling in providing further variations.  My son was perched near the edge of the Southern Rim with his camera.  Certainly a day to remember on a wonderful family holiday!

Would it be possible to make a relief carving of the scene that would do it justice?  Perhaps not, but I decided to give it a try!

A piece of lime was required, about 300 x 350 X 35 mm thick.  A board was found which could be jointed, with grain running horizontally, but one end was slightly spalted and streaky. It was decided to leave that in the sky area, and how well that turned out in the finished product!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The picture was scaled and transferred to the wood.  Outlines were defined and depth layers were cut. Notice the streakiness and shade variation in the sky area on top right.

Trees and foreground figure were rounded

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some staining was done to test the general effect.  Spirit-based wood dyes were used, and knife cuts were made at the layer boundaries to prevent bleeding of the stain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was found that the picture did not reveal the depth of the canyon, but looked more like a winding stream, so layers were re-adjusted, and some further detail carving was done, which, after further staining, gave a much better impression of the depth of the gorge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The carving was sealed, then set in a mahogany frame and presented to the sitter.

History of Wood Carving – Pre-History by John Adamson

Wood carving is one of the oldest arts of humankind.    Unfortunately, wood does not survive well in the archeology context, so all examples are later than cave painting, and bone and stone carving.   I argue that wood carving was a easier and earlier technology than painting.    The earliest painters needed to learn new skills, find sources for their pigments from stones and muds, dry and grind them to a powder, and then find a way of making them stick to rock.   Woodcarvers had it easy.    The earliest woodcarvers already had the tools and the skill to make bows and arrows ect, so were shaping wood.  They only had to find a piece of wood that looked almost like something and alter the shape a small amount.    Probably working in 3D came easier to them than 2D.    Our education system concentrates on 2D workTo the exclusion of 3D work .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The oldest cave painting known until now is a 40,800-year-old red disk from El Castillo, in northern Spain.  The world’s oldest stone tools  were unearthed from the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya, and date to 3.3 million years ago.     If my argument is valid then  oldest woodcarving would be some time between 3.3 million and 40,800 years ago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The oldest stone carving, the Wilendorf Venus stands 4.5 inches high  carved from an oolitic limestone that is not local to the area, and tinted with red ochre.    The figure is believed to have been carved during the European Upper Paleolithic or “Old Stone Age”, a period of prehistory starting around 30,000 BCE.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The world’s oldest wood carving, the Shigir Idol, a totemic sculpture that stands 2.8 meters (~9.2 feet) tall, was made 11,000 years ago, making it twice as old as the ancient Egyptian pyramids at Giza.    The idol was discovered in a peat bog in the Ural Mountains in 1890

The  idol dates to the very beginning of the Holocene epoch, or the geologic period that marks the development of human civilization. Researchers also determined that the sculpture was made from a larch tree that was, at the time, at least 157 years old.

Originally published in the now defunct British Woodcarvers Association’s magazine

The Carving of Coral Reef By Mark Doolittle

Mark Doolittle’s carvings are unusual and intriguing, reflecting strongly of his academic training and career. In this article, Mark provides an overview of the carving process used in creating Coral Reef.   This article has been copied from the  www,carverscompanion.com.  of April 14th, 2012        This an American free woodcarvers website and well worth a visit.     Do look at Mark’s web site:  markdoolittlestudio.com or on his Facebook page:   www.facebook.com/markdool  – his work is truly inspiring


The first step is to obtain a single piece of wood of the appropriate color, workability, grain and size. For Coral Reef, the American hardwood “Basswood” was chosen, a light-colored, straight-grained wood that is very workable, making it a favorite among carvers. As shown in this photo, the size of the “Coral Reef” sculpture (24”h x 24”w x 4”d) was obtained by gluing together five pieces of 4” thick Basswood.

 

The second step is to obtain the overall shape of the piece. This begins by cutting out the overall profile of Coral Reef using a bandsaw.

 

After the profile is obtained, the shaping step is continued using rasps, sanders, gouges and rotary burrs to achieve the final three-dimensional shape of Coral Reef.

 

The front of the shaped piece.

 

The final step is to add detail carving that provides a sense of growth like the colonization of millions of coral polyps that build natural coral reefs. This “sense of growth” was achieved by carving holes & fissures using a variety of rotary bits and hand-held rasps and files. Here is the start of the detailed carving to obtain the desired organic shapes, beginning on the smaller “wing”.

 

The bottom of the wings, showing the detail that was used to transition the carvings from the small wings to the stem and larger wings of the piece.

 

The larger wing during detailed carved. Both through holes (called “piercing”) and stopped holes were used to achieve the lace-like organic look. Notice the pencil marks on the non-carved surface that were used to guide the carving.

 

The piercing begins at the edge of the piece, as seen here on the right-hand wing.

The internal piercings are finally added.

 

All detail carving is completed.

 

A three-quarter view of the completed piece, before wood dyes were used to emphasize the edges of the wings.

 

Final piece with added edge color, finished with polyurethane and finally mounted on a base made from African Padauk with an inset piece of Arizona sandstone.

 

Mark Henry Doolittle earned a PhD in Biology from the University of California at Los Angeles, and enjoyed a career there in biomedical research.  While working at UCLA, he also developed a keen interest in art and woodworking, recently transitioning into a second career as a full-time wood artist.

Mark’s work is strongly influenced by his background in biology.  His work strongly reflects the growth and symmetry found in cells and tissue, as well as whole organisms.  He uses organic shapes and abstract forms to foster a perception of biological grow.

See more of Mark’s intriguing work on his web site:  markdoolittlestudio.com or on his Facebook page:   www.facebook.com/markdool

Carving a Boot by Richard Higgins

I decided to carve this football boot based on my eldest sons boots (6 year old). I was originally going to use it as a prototype and carve an adult size pair of boots, but as usual other carvings took priority.

As you can see, I found a piece of Lime suitably sized for the football boot in question

I’ve already drawn the profiles on the boot and cut it out using a band saw, you’ll also notice that I’ve left extra wood to ease the handling while working on it

I’ve started to, `round off` the boot in all directions and made a start on the tongue and where the lace holes are going to go. I still haven’t attempted to do anything with the studs just yet.

Having marked out the studs and carved them  it’s time to start adding the finer detail and start sand papering!

These pictures show that after hollowing out the boot and making sure that the walls of the boot weren’t too thin then it was time to put in hours of sanding and to add that final detail of stitching, lace holes and stripes.

Finally, it’s time to finish off with a couple of coats of Danish oil and add the actual laces to give it that completed look

I hope you enjoyed looking and reading about my carving as much as I did producing it!

Towneley Mice

Our club enjoys an on-going association with the Towneley Hall Art Gallery and Museum, in Burnley, as a result of exhibitions in the Hall, appearances at the Woodland Festivals, and the Towneley Owl project.

A request was received for a number of carved mice, which could be laid as a ?mouse trail? round the hall, as an attraction for younger visitors, and it was decided that we should tackle this as a club project, giving members free reign to produce a mouse to their own design.

A deadline was imposed, and a collection of over 50 mice was presented to David Anderson, from the Hall, at our Christmas meeting in 2002. It was obvious that members had enjoyed being inventive in this project, as there was a great diversity in the mice submitted.

They were put on display, as a collection, soon after the presentation, but could not be set out as originally intended, because of major building extension work and subsequent rearrangement of the displays within the Hall.

The mice were finally set out in September 2003, to coincide with our exhibition of carvings, and have immediately become a major attraction for the children, who enjoy looking out for them as they tour the Hall.

Their popularity has ensured their retention, at least for the present, and a demand has been created for mice to be sold in the Towneley shop

The shop now sells

Mice making kits http://towneley.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Towneley-Hall-Mouse-Activity-Instruction-Sheet_16758.pdf

Story Book    https://issuu.com/burnleygraphics/docs/gs_a_mouse_storybook___16761

Mouse Hunt check list for kids

It ha always been an annoyance that the club’s work in providing the mice is not recognised anywhere on the publications

 

Friendship Poles

Friendship poles are an American idea we pinched. They usually attract a lot of attention when put out on display at our shows.
Club members were provided with a piece of lime wood 2 x 2 x 4 inches with a hole drilled down the middle and asked to carve something; anything interesting.  We had no idea of the variety of carvings that would be produced.  Almost any member can look at a carving in one of our exhibitions and unerringly approach the carver who made it.  With the friendship pieces these “normal” subject matter and approach were no guide to the carver.