Cre­at­ing a bird

Landscape (UK) - - In The Home -

The bird sculp­tures come to life in a large work­shop next to Ge­of­frey’s farm­house. Piles of in­trigu­ingly-shaped pieces of wood sit there. There are gnarled oak roots, some­times used for bases, and slowly dry­ing drift­wood planks, their gen­tle smell per­vad­ing the whole space. Rows of dif­fer­ent-sized chis­els are neatly hung on racks along the walls, and on a tidy work bench sits a pair of half-fin­ished curlews. The process starts by draw­ing the out­line of the bird on a square block of wood. To make the curlews, Ge­of­frey uses a block ap­prox­i­mately 12 by 20in (30 x 50cm) for each bird. He knows ex­actly what he is go­ing to carve be­fore he starts. “The whole thing can end up on the floor in shav­ings un­less you have planned what you are go­ing to do first.” The bird’s body is made from re­claimed pine, sourced from sal­vage yards, old build­ings or finds on the beach. Pine is not a tra­di­tional carv­ing wood, but Ge­of­frey prefers to work with it rather than the more usual, harder lime or oak. “It has a deeper grain than the other woods which makes it look a bit like drift­wood, so it matches the bases,” he ex­plains. How­ever, work­ing with it is chal­leng­ing, as being a natural ma­te­rial it can be un­pre­dictable. “If you get a knot in the wrong place, or the wood cracks, you just have to throw the whole thing away,” he ex­plains. Once the shape has been drawn onto the wood, he cuts it out roughly, us­ing a band saw. “Then, off I go with a chisel and wooden mal­let,” he says. He care­fully cuts away the ex­cess wood us­ing ever smaller chis­els to re­fine the bird’s dis­tinc­tive form. This part of the process takes sev­eral days, al­though Ge­of­frey is a fast worker. “If it takes too long to make, I know there is some­thing wrong with the shape.” The bird’s head and beak are made in sep­a­rate sec­tions, then joined to the main body of the bird with wooden dow­els and glue. The legs are made out of re­claimed me­tal from scrap­yards, which is heated with a blow lamp, then ham­mered into shape on an anvil. The fin­ished legs are in­serted into the body and then into a hole in the base. The birds are fi­nally rubbed down with dif­fer­ent grades of sand­pa­per to give a smooth fin­ish.

The bird’s out­line is cut from the wood and its shape en­hanced with a chisel. The re­claimed me­tal legs are bent us­ing a blow­torch be­fore being in­serted into the body. The bird’s head is made sep­a­rately, then at­tached to the body at Ge­of­frey’s work bench and sanded at the join.

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