Author Archives: inaka← Older posts
Marketing is always a challenge whether you are a big company or not. Therefore, at the end of 2017, we have decided to move to the deep web. Don’t get this mixed up with the dark web, that part of the worldwide web that is only accessible by special software and where all the criminal activity takes place, causing formidable challenges for law enforcement agencies around the world.
The deep web is totally legal, it’s just not discoverable by means of standard search engines, we have to give you the website.
Why would we move to the deep web? We have a NICHE MARKET–A LOCAL DEMOGRAPHIC. Having had a website for six years, we have found that perhaps it’s not the best way for us to market.
We have never allowed comments on this website, but we still receive countless emails from people who say they love our work. It is very flattering to have people favorably comment but since we only produce a small number of pieces per year, and a lot of our work is by commission, we seem to be spending more and more time answering fan mail!
Also, we don’t tweet, we don’t link, we don’t like, we don’t follow. Nobody could tell us the advantage of joining any social media. So, think of us as the web equivalent of a “by appointment only” business–as in serious inquiries only.
Our goal is to create pieces that blur the line between utility and art using native woods and antler.
If you would like to continue viewing our work after we shut down the website at the end of 2017, simply go to Contact Us and send us an email. We thank you in advance for this opportunity.
Everybody gets in a slump from time to time. I find that after I finish a piece, I develop a hesitation to start a new one. Maybe it is the abrupt change from finishing one piece and having to start with the planning and rough carving that attends the commencement of new work. Whatever the reason, I usually find myself in a slump after I finish a piece, a reluctance to start something new. Luckily I live in a style where there is usually something to do to occupy myself till the enthusiasm returns.
Ideas for new work, on the other hand occur when least expected and often in bunches. While working on something entirely different, an idea for an excellent piece may show up, or it may occur when I see something around the place, or am reading about something else. I keep a list of ideas written down so that when I am ready to start something new, I can decide from among several options. The list of ideas can also serve to build enthusiasm for starting new projects.
So this last slump was a double whammy because I had just finished a string of several projects and had used up all the items on my list. After completing all the spring work around the place, I was looking to keep my skills up, but didn’t have any ideas, nor was I really enthused about starting a new project.
In the past, I’ve worked on some small projects – little things – to keep the carving muscles in shape. One such activity that I like is to make leaves and feathers. I find they are often useful for inclusion in other projects later and are also nice things to give guests – particularly to kids. While making some leaves, one of the pieces of antler I selected had a flaw in it (not unusual) that resulted in a couple of weak spots – holes – in the leaf. In a case like this, one can either scrap the piece or incorporate the flaw into the design. I chose the latter and decided carve some caterpillars and attach them to the leaf to make it look like they were eating it and making the holes. It turned out kind of nice for a little project, but I felt that, to be honest, the caterpillars should have been carved from the same piece as the leaf. Glueing them on after is the easy way. Thus resulted in the next project.
I selected moose antler because it was flat and not to thick and proceeded to make two pieces – each a leaf that looks undisturbed from above, but underneath holds three caterpillars hustling over the surface and borrowing into the folds of the leaf. One would think that the difficult part would be the carving of the caterpillars themselves, but they were relatively easy. The hard part was making the underside of the leaf. Why? Because after the caterpillars were carved, the surface remaining had to smoothed until it looked like a leaf – and there were those caterpillars in the way. This involved a lot of sanding using a stick to hold a small piece of sandpaper. The after the surface was smoothed, it had to be carved to look like the underside of a leaf – i.e. the veins had to be carved into the surface, or in one case, the veins had to left in relief whole the rest of the surface was reduced.
The pieces turned out better than expected – for an unexpected reason. The center of a moose antler is spongy like all antlers. Some parts are very spongy with relatively big holes. Other parts are quite dense and can be carved. I choose pieces that were dense in the middle and the unexpected benefit was that when finished, the middle material turned darker than the outer material. Since the caterpillars were all carved from the inner material and the leaf surfaces all carved from outer material, the result is dark caterpillars crawling on a lighter leaf surface.
The caterpillar project got me thinking about how objects could be carved onto the surface of other objects and the wide variety of potential projects that could be realized using this technique – and the idea list is again growing.
This montage style piece explores the concept of the garden and orchard. We are led to believe that these are places of peace and tranquility. To reflect this, the piece contains representations of walnuts, almonds, acorns, pistachios, peanuts, Manitoba maple seeds, strawberries, peas, asparagus, green onions, carrots and soybeans as well as numerous leaves. However, as every biologist, gardener and tree grower knows, the natural world is a battleground between the plants and the things that want to eat the plants. To this end, if you look closely, you’ll notice a number of creepy crawlies nestled in among the plant matter. Some you’ll recognize, like the caterpillars, nut, worms and snail. Others are less known, like the almond beetle, the land scallop, the asparagus ant lion, a peanut caterpillar, the onion lasso worm and the rarely seen predatory parsnip.
This piece is made from many, many pieces of elk, moose and deer antler as well as a few tagua nuts. The walnut, one almond and the soybeans with snail are removable for handling. The realistic renderings are interspersed with abstract shapes reminiscent of plants or plant parts. The various pieces are displayed on a backdrop of carved moose antlers and mounted on a base of Manitoba Maple.
51 cm W x 38 cm H x 18 cm D
20″W x 15″H x 7″D
As a biologist, I try to make my pieces as detailed and correct as possible. For flowers and animals, it is fairly easy to study specimens and pictures and determine the correct number size and shape of constituent parts. Then I attempt to model the parts and put them together, or else I try to carve the parts into the larger piece. Some skill is of course required to convert visual observation into a physical piece. But once the parts are completed and in place, you can usually tell when you are finished.
Abstract pieces are another thing altogether. This work-in-progress is entitled: Nuts and Roots and Seeds and Shoots. First, there is no model to measure and compare with. In fact, for original abstract ideas, there is really nothing to start with, except an idea in your head. Further, you never know when you are finished. The idea in your head is a starting point, but once it becomes translated into a physical thing, there are always other things that can be added, subtracted or modified to improve on the idea. Basically, you continually work on the piece until something inside says, “that is finished!” In a few abstract pieces, I’ve kept working on it until I’ve gone one step too far and then decided to remove or repair that last addition, subtraction or modification. But even then, for several weeks, every time I looked at the completed piece I wondered if there was something else I could do to improve it.
An abstract piece does have the advantage of being more open for discussion. People seeing the piece before or after completion will often give ideas, comments or criticisms. These are all very welcome because their comments are based upon their view of the idea behind the piece–a view that is just as valid as mine was when I started. Comments on a realistic piece are much more limited: “that looks like the real thing”, -“his nose looks too long”, etc. Abstract pieces allow a person to provide more input from their own frame of context and can engage a person more fully.
For other abstract pieces already completed, see Cornucopia and Orchids (under Miscellaneous in older posts or in Gallery )
This type of iris plant in full bloom is called beardless because the styles of the flower lie flat upon the petals as opposed to the more common type of iris where the styles are more filamentous, or bearded.
The iris flower is one of the more complicated to carve because of the many pieces it is composed of and the curved flowing nature of its parts. The leaves are relatively simple, but a lot of leaves are required to make the sculpture look realistic. So, this piece required considerably more work than anticipated at the beginning. Nonetheless, the sinuous curves of the stems and leaves blend into one another such that, in some lighting situations, the sculpture almost looks abstract.
Two flowering stems with auxiliary buds rise from a mass of leaves mounted on a birch base. The flowers and leaves are carved from deer, moose and elk antler.
38 cm H x 24 cm W x 21 cm D
14″H x 9“W x 8″D
We see them all the time, stuck up in corners of the garden shed or under the eaves of the house. Usually we are quite surprised to see them because they appear so suddenly. One day, nothing, then seemingly the next day there is buzzing around your ears and a wasp nest above you.
Nonetheless, we are still interested in the nests, their papery delicacy and the bustle of the insects crawling over and through it. This piece allows the observer to handle the nest without the danger of the stinging insects. The nest rests partially hidden below a branch, a world unto itself, wanting only to be left alone.
The wasp nest is made from a single piece of moose antler. Five wasps are carved on its surface, again from the single piece of antler, so that the whole is durable and meant to be handled. The nest hangs from a branch which, with its three leaves are all carved from elk antler. The nest attaches to the branch by means of a hidden magnet, so it can be detached for handling.
12cm W x 11cm D x 7cm H
5″W x 4.5″D x 2.5″H
Caterpillars crawl on the underside of a leaf. From the upper side, the leaf looks undisturbed, but when turned over, there is a hustle and bustle of insects stuffing themselves so they can become adults. Are the insects any less perfect than the leaf itself? Does their presence make the overall piece seem less serene? It is all in the eye of the beholder.
In actual fact, the purpose of these pieces is to provide a wish for true gardeners and plant aficionados. Every year, just when the plants are looking their best , along comes some bug or worm or fungus to disrupt the growth of the plants. If only the power of those invertebrates and fungi could be harnessed for good instead of evil. Thus, we return to the true underlying meaning of these pieces: May the tent caterpillars eat the weeds in your garden.
Each of the pieces is carved from a single piece of moose antler. The darker color of the inner antler material results in darker caterpillars crawling on a lighter leaf surface.
Two life-sized dragonflies carved from elk antler sit atop a box also made of elk antler. The box is made from a single piece of clear white elk antler that has been sliced lengthwise, then hollowed out so that the top and bottom pieces match.
The box halves are carved thin enough for light to pass through. The insides of the box halves are finished with beeswax giving it a honey scented interior. The dragonfly wings are also carved thin so that light can pass through them. The dragonflies perch atop the box on legs made from spring quality stainless steel.
15cm W x 10cm D x 8.5cm H
6”W x 4”D x 3.5”H
I am continuing to explore the question “can a birchbark piece be sophisticated?” This table exploits the beauty of bark that has the feel of top-grain leather. However, the design and the top are very modern.
An angular base showcases both sides of what birch bark can look like. The dowels securing the base are covered in dyed rawhide. With a sandblasted glass top thick enough to withstand hot drinks, this piece takes an age-old natural material and brings it into the 21st century. The top detaches for easier transport.
The natural rawhide and bark juxtapose with the glass top.
This box is made from a single piece of aged elk antler that has been sliced lengthwise, then hollowed out. The use of older elk antler allows for lines and cracks to show in the antler without reducing its strength and integrity. Because they come from a single piece, the top and bottom match so they fit together perfectly. The inside of the box is finished with beeswax giving it a honey-scented interior.
The exterior of the box is adorned with ivy vines and leaves. 31 leaves and numerous vines run the length of the top and along the front of the bottom. Vines from both halves overlap the other half disguising the separation of top and bottom. Care was taken to select antler of the same yellowish color for carving the leaves.
18cm W x 7cm D x 9cm H
7”W x 3”D x 3.5”H