A talented master wood carver needs to be able to adapt several different techniques and skills that take years of trial and error, practice and dedication to learn. This ancient art is always learnt with the experienced master artisans that pass their precious knowledge to the young generations.
One of the problems woodwork sculptures in general have is the fact that its survival is harder than the one of art pieces made of stone and bronze, for example. Wood is a living material that is vulnerable to decay, insect damage and fire. That’s why the wooden works of art are so precious and must be taken care of gently. The ancient wooden sculptures that lasted until our days are true treasures to Art History.
Many of the most important sculptures in oriental countries like China and Japan are made in wood. Woodwork is also a huge part of Africa’s traditions, most African wearable masks and ornaments are made of wood.
Among the singularities of wood, we can focus on its fibrous nature and layered composition. As it is a living material, its characteristics change according to the specie of the tree that produced it. This means each type of wood has a unique density, shape and color, it’s complex and sometimes unpredictable. The wood can also be divided in the soft and hard categories. The softwood is the best to sculpt because it offers less resistance, but it’s less durable. The hardwood is complex to work with but allows an unbeatable level of quality and precision. Despite the colossal challenge, the best woodcarvers always use hardwood because it allows excellent finishes.