Wednesday, 5 May 2010


This is me charring the surface of a piece I am working on at the moment. I have been charring the surface of my wooden pieces since 1985, after a visit to the Museum of Mankind. At the exhibition they had a room dedicated to the Brazilian boat builders, it transpires that they hollow out the boats with adzes, then make seats. They start a fire and a number of men then hold the boat aloft over the flames, moving the boat constantly, the heat of the fire opens the hollowed area a small amount, they then take the boat from the flames and put the seats into place, as the boat cools so it contracts and holds the seats in situ. Brilliant, I went home immediately and tried the technique, I have been burning and charring sculptures ever since, to lesser and greater degrees. The charring is not only aesthetically pleasing but also carbonises the surface of the wood, thus making it last longer. I discovered many years ago whilst doing a workshop just outside Birmingham that in the 'olden days' The posts put into the ground were charred over an open fire to protect the wood. I love the process and the way different wood reacts to burning and the way the grain becomes more prominent. In this picture I am using a gas burner, I also burn over open fires and am soon going to try some faggot fires. I have also branded, stencil burnt all sorts of techniques are possible, fire is a tremendous tool.

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