This page contains descriptions of the unusual qualities of juniper wood and the carving technique "The Flowing Brooks".
For my projects I use juniper wood grown in Crimea. Juniper trees there grow in very harsh conditions - on poor, dry, rocky soils of mountain slopes along Crimea's sea shore. Clinging to the rock with its roots, juniper endures the scorching sun in the summer and piercing winds in the winter. A constant shortage of water and lack of nutrients is the cause for slow growth. These juniper trees are incredibly relentless organisms, the real ascetic warriors.
A number of years is sometimes required for juniper to increase its trunk thickness just by one millimeter. I am looking at a piece of juniper trunk. Its diameter is only four centimeters while its age is 145 years!
Juniper is an organism with remarkable longevity. Its age may reach 1000 years! When I imagine how much this piece of "live history" has seen over its life span, I experience overwhelming emotions.
For my carvings I only use juniper wood that is a result of natural mortality. Freshly cut wood does not have balanced energy. The prematurely "killed" plant continues to absorb energy from the environment instead of giving into its surroundings the thin vibrations of solar energy.
Old wood carving schools had a tradition in which freshly cut wood could not be used for carvings. Such wood should have been kept in special conditions for at least six years, but the longer the better! Cut wood should have "pacified" to prevent it from causing harm to people, giving away warm soft energy of the Sun instead!
In wood, that is a result of natural mortality, all processes of energy absorption are completed. If you have sufficiently developed energy sensitivity, you can test it yourself. Compare your sensations from fresh and from seasoned wood!
Also I cannot pass on the opportunity to mention the smell of juniper. When I work with juniper the entire house to the very remote corner is filled with a magnificent smell!
This technique was created in the process of my work particularly with juniper.
I was unable to use juniper wood the same way I used such uniform material as wood of box-tree or hawthorn. It was impossible to think of a sculpture, and then simply carve it by taking a piece of suitable dimensions. All preliminary desires were reduced to nothing due to color heterogeneity and knots unexpectedly appearing under the chisel. It turns out that juniper is not only resistant to unfavorable environmental conditions but to my ideas as well! :)
By nature, based on the qualities of juniper, I came up with a carving technique I call "The Flowing Brooks". The essence of it is as follows.
Everything starts with the wood piece selection. This is the only stage where I have full freedom of choice (of course, with material at hand as a limiting factor). Then, juniper dictates its rules.
Material itself suggests the theme. This is a very interesting stage. It is necessary to feel where and how the knots are distributed, where inner knots may emerge unexpectedly, where and at what depth new color will appear (or disappear). I carefully listen and juniper reveals its secrets to me!
The next stage is carving. Juniper carving is a delightful process! It is like a trip to an absolutely unknown corner of nature, like a walk on a meandering forest trail in a light fog. With every move of a chisel, the artist has no knowledge of where the trail will turn and what surprise waits behind the corner. This process reminds me of a flowing stream. The stream finds its way avoiding the obstacles and changing direction many times. Like a stream, unable to change the inner structure of the wood I am forced to find the way to convey my feelings and ideas.
The entire process takes a lot of time. For example, it took me almost three years to complete "Dormouse" - from 2001 to 2004. Of course, I don't always spend that much time for a single piece, but usually it takes no less than two-three months to complete my work. During the carving process it is important to feel every line and take into consideration numerous nuances. As the result of such work the unique sculpture is born. This sculpture is impossible to repeat, as impossible to find two similar pieces of juniper!