Connection to Wood

There are thousands of connections to the Spirit of something. Each helping us to connect to and practice the gift of creation.
I started woodcarving in my early 20’s, and it’s been a hobby ever since.
Hand carved sign001 This 3 foot sign was carved for friends in New Hampshire, in the mid ’80’s.
Most of the time I charge $50 a foot for my work, although the Spirit will move me, and I’ll do something wild and crazy for a friend. In my earlier work I put the pattern on the wood free-hand. Now I put carbon paper in between wood and the design, which is on paper.
Hand carved sign002This 2 sided 3 foot sign was carved for friends in Vermont, in the late ’80’s.
When I started I’d carve in anything, 1 x 4, 1 x 6 pine mostly. At one point I got my hands on some Red Wood. I worked at a local mill once, making contemporary wooden furniture, and I was blessed for they worked with all the hard woods. At that time I worked a lot in Walnut, even though it’s a hard wood, it’s also very soft, and one can carve amazing detail easily.
Hand carved signs009This 3 foot + sign was carved for The Grizzly Bar in Roscoe Montana in the early ’90’s.
All my big signs are carved from big slabs, there’s no gluing pieces together. Just go directly to the mill, pick up planks 3 inches thick, up to 2 and 1/2 feet wide, by however long the tree is.
Hand carved sign003This 4 foot + sign was carved for a bed and breakfast, here in Montana mid ’90’s.
Carving signs have brought me great happiness, not only for the appreciation of the client, also for the avenue of the creation itself. Learning about wood, opening up and listening, and letting the wood speak to me. The grain of each piece twists and turns, and the wood around knots ripple… Dictating where the pattern is going to land. willow gateI carved and put this Diamond Willow gate together as part of a landscaping project for a friend here in Montana.
Carving in Diamond Willow has been a very different experience. The knots in this wood are inverted, and the core of the wood is red, as you can see here. Diamond Willow is a bush, which grows around springs and along water ways. This bush can found in the Northern half of the US and on into Canada.
Diamond Willow007These are 2 of many 17 inch lamps I carved.
The knots are created by a fungus that started at the base of a branch, killed the branch, and what your seeing is the wood retreating from the fungus… Creating the knots. So the living part of this wood is shown in this picture above, as only the white part is living, and it goes about a 1/2 inch deep because the core is dry.
Diamond Willow006This is one of many 12 inch lamps I carved.
There are about 6 or 7 different kinds of Willow, and about 3 or 4 kinds of Willow are effected by this fungus. Every single piece is so wildly different from the next. In the beginning I was bringing home Everything I found fascinating, which was Everything. Now I look carefully before I cut it down.
chris&walking sticks001Here are a few of the countless walking sticks I carved.
I spent a lot of quiet time to myself, out in the woods wondering around, looking for that unusual very unique piece. My family ranch has many square miles, and therefore many places to wonder.
Diamond Willow is a wood that embodies Faerie energy. When I started carving inside my home, out of the corner of my eye I’d see lights dancing around the room. After a month or two I’d start seeing tiny beings, figures darting across the room or just watching me carve. They bring forth the energy of “joy”. When I’d be out in the woods of a Willow patch, I’d hear joyful whispering voices, and would often forget what I’m doing and just sit, be present and listen.
willow huntI do have one older friend that shares this passion with me, He drives out, we wonder all over, sometime 2 to 3 days. Then I send him home with a truck load of wood, that Might keep him busy for the winter.
ranch 1_08013#49B0 The adventure of the day, without leaving home.
May the creative blessings of your wild imaginations, tickle and tease you along your journey.

Q and A
* Is Diamond Willow hard to carve? Out of all the western hardwoods Diamond Willow is one of the hardest, it’s grainy, twisted, and loaded with knots. However, the art of what I do is in the stripping away of the bark, and revealing the natural beauty within.

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mari
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 17:35:16

    Your work is amazing! Wow!! Thank you for sharing it with us!

    Reply

  2. Christopher Snell
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 17:40:27

    Thank you for lighting up my day with your warm radiance and kind words. Door’s always open, come round anytime.

    Reply

  3. IshaiyaFreshlySqueezed
    Apr 16, 2013 @ 19:27:29

    You should make me a walking stick for my next big hiking trip 😉 Beautiful work! Blessings

    Ishaiya

    Reply

    • Christopher Snell
      Apr 16, 2013 @ 22:15:43

      OK, I need one measurement… stand like your holding a stick, I need the measurement from your fist to the floor. I may have a piece already made, or I’ll need some time to go out into the woods to find that special piece. Would you like the end of this stick to be plain wood, or have a rubber tip like a cane, or a metal sharp tip?

      Reply

  4. IshaiyaFreshlySqueezed
    Apr 16, 2013 @ 23:19:06

    Wow, I feel honoured that would even consider making me a staff! Well, the measurement is 50 inches approx., which should accommodate walking boots. I would prefer the tip to have a metal sharp tip as I’ll be walking over quite rough terrain. I shall trust in your judgement as to what piece to use. Let me know the rest of the details.

    Reply

    • Christopher Snell
      Apr 17, 2013 @ 00:00:19

      Do you prefer a stout and sturdy stick, or light weight – easy to carry?
      The staff will be a little longer than 50 inches, 50 inches is where your hand is going to grip it and that needs to be a smooth surface.

      Reply

  5. IshaiyaFreshlySqueezed
    Apr 17, 2013 @ 07:45:55

    Definitely light and easy to carry. I will be walking 100 miles in 9 days – don’t want to break my wrist! 🙂

    Reply

  6. Ishaiya
    May 23, 2013 @ 16:23:00

    That sounds beautiful Christopher. Blessings…

    Reply

  7. VIOLETA BOCAGE
    May 27, 2014 @ 08:36:35

    Beautiful work!!! I never thought about what it feels like to carve into wood and then see the finished product. Cool! Thank you for sharing.

    Reply

  8. Sonny
    May 03, 2017 @ 06:27:13

    That’s a cunning answer to a challenging question.

    Reply

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