Making Sustainable Wood Carvings

Branches from a Monkey Pod tree (Acacia, Rain Tree) are generally cut between one to two meters in length and delivered to the carving facility. Monkey Pod has greater then 50% Moisture Content (MC) when first cut

Occasionally a tree is cut and used. Large one piece carvings are made or alternately one piece table tops. This is generally not done as the tree rejuvenates fast after branches only are cut at about 1 to 2 inches a year in diameter

The wood is then rough cut by chain saw into the shape of the product that will be made from this batch of wood. Scarp is used for small carvings and heating homes in the cool season

It takes skill and time to rough carve a shape like the Twist Stool leaving enough material for the finish carvers to make consistent shapes - This is done while the wood is still wet

This is a roughed out Twist Stool by the chain saw operator. The wood is still very wet and will shrink and crack by a large percentage

These are roughed out Cube18 body's - the most dangerous is the inside. The wood is still wet and the blades of the chain saw can jam easily if care is not used during carving

Finish carvers have generations of experience behind them and work by the "feel" of the sustainable wood. Carving is not a full time job and is generally a family affair involving cousins and close friends. Being an agricultural society carving can slow down or stop during the rainy season for rice planting and again for harvesting

Carving is done to earn extra money while crops are growing and for enjoyment by crafts people who are communally oriented. Other unexpected interruptions are weddings, funerals, Buddhist and other religious holidays. Done in villages where everyone knows each other, celebrations and mourning's are a community affair that take precedence

A skilled carver just knows what tool to select based on how the wood feels and what they see as they are working

Tools are generally hand made and every carver has their own set they have created for the work they perform

Visiting a group of carvers is always interesting. You see the work you ordered as well as some interesting new ideas a craver creates with odd pieces of wood. This can lead to new designs for the future

After carving the body there are those that do the initial cleanup work on the pieces to blend in as much as possible so the design flows smoothly before we pick up to start drying