Recently unveiled at the MadArt space in Seattle, Middle Fork is the lastest sculptural work by artist John Grade who worked with countless volunteers to realize this enormous scale mold of a 140-year-old tree.
The process began a year ago when Grade and a crew of assistants scaled a Western Hemlock tree in North Bend, Washington with help of a team of arborists. At nearly 90 feet in the air they created sectional plaster molds of the living tree which were carefully lowered and transported back to the MadArt space over a period of two weeks. Over the next 12 months, hundreds of volunteers (some who walked in right off the streets) helped to create a hollow sculpture of the tree using hundreds of thousands of small wood blocks. The final piece was carefully sanded down and is now suspended in the gallery. Watch the video below to see how it all came together.
Middle Fork is the first exhibition at the new MadArt space in Seattle and will be on view through April 25th before it goes on tour to galleries and art fairs around the U.S. In two years the pieces will be transported to the base of the living tree from which the mold was taken where they will decay and disintegrate back into the ground.
If you enjoyed John Edmark’s trippy 3D-printed zoetrope sculptures last week, you might also enjoy some of his kinetic sculptures that rely on excruciatingly precise laser-cut wood and internal mechanisms to create optical illusions and other unexpected behaviors. Edmark describes these as “instruments that amplify our awareness of the sometimes tenuous relationship between facts and perception.” Here are three of my favorites, but you can see many more on his Vimeo page.
Since a young age, Paris-based artist and designer Christophe Guinet (aka. Mr. Plant) has been obsessed with trees, grass, and seeds, all materials he utilizes in his vegetation-specific practice. One of his most recent projects from earlier this year saw the creation of shoes using flowers and other plant material, which he has since followed up with Natural Skateboarding, a 32″ skateboard built from a panel of tree bark. While it would be fun to imagine a line of bark-based skateboards, “Plant Deck” is a one-off piece meant primarily for display. You can see more of Guinet’s work here. (via Fubiz)
As the story goes, Ernest “Mooney” Warther was a boy growing up in Ohio when he encountered a man who taught him how to carve a pair of working pliers from a single piece of wood—using just 10 cuts. Whether it was that single epiphany, or the machinations of his incredibly inquisitive mind, Warther would quickly become one of this most notable wood carvers in America.
Warther’s most significant carving before he changed his focus almost exclusively to locomotives, was a tree created from 511 interconnected pliers using the same technique he learned as a child. The piece required some 31,000 cuts and each branch can fully articulate like a functional pair of pliers all the way down to the base of the trunk. Watch the video above to see Warther’s son David demonstrating the technique (seriously, it’s almost miraculous at the end, well worth a quick watch).
If you want to see more of Warther’s work, there’s an entire museum in Ohio where you can also view is wife Frieda’s meticulously organized collection of 100,000 buttons. (via Atlas Obscura)
Update: An earlier version of this post stated the person in the video above is Ernest, when in fact it’s his son, David. (thnx, Natalia!)
Back in August, industrial designer Mat Brown shared a method for creating wood shelves inlaid with glow-in-the-dark resin. Not to be outdone, Mike Warren just released a tutorial of how to fill the naturally formed voids in pecky cypress with photoluminescent powder mixed with clear casting resin. The effect is pretty amazing. To see how he did it you can watch video above or read through Warren’s step-by-step instructions over on Instructables. (via NOTCOT)
Brussels-based sculptor Xavier Puente Vilardell turns blocks of wood into twisting, curled objects that look more like scrolls of paper or pieces of fabric than lumber. You can see a bit more of his pine wood sculptures over on Behance and on his website.
In an age of the ubiquitous 3D printer, it’s easy to forget the joy and beauty of handmade craft. Take, for example, the 400-year old Japanese art of creating kokeshi dolls. These traditional wooden figurines were said to have been originally made as souvenirs to sell to people visiting the local hot springs in Northern Japan. Although there are about 10 different styles, each doll is made with an enlarged head and cylindrical body with no arms or legs.
In the video, produced by tetotetote, an organization highlighting the arts and crafts of Sendai, Japan, Yasuo Okazaki woodturns solid blocks into the head and body using just a few tools. Okazaki’s “Naruko” style of making the dolls was passed down to him from his father and features stripes at the top and bottom of the body and bangs with red headdresses. I don’t think there’s anything more soothing and hypnotic than the sights and sounds of watching these dolls emerge from a spinning block of wood.