The Art of Carving

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Peter J Scheunert was born in Germany but calls the small community of Rosswood in Northern BC, Canada which is close to Alaska his home. Peter began carving after his extensive travels in Greece and Italy. His early works of Venetian Masks illustrate this influence. After many years in the beautiful northern Canadian wilderness, Peter's knowledge of and artistic appreciation for the diverse beauty of red cedar, alder and spruce began to emerge. Peter's most recent find is the unique naturally fermented wood of dead-standing sugar maples, like himself a "settler" species in northern British Columbia. Each hand-carved piece follows the natural patterns of the wood's grain, bringing out the organic process that results in unique patterns. Peter has deep respect for the natural resources that inspire his carving and uses only salvaged wood; no living trees are cut down. Each piece in his collection is finished using organic vegetable oils, and doubles as a bowl and as a sculpture.

Peter uses the following types of wood in his work:-

Fermented maple
Naturally fermented maple is a rare and miraculous material: it is the end result of a chain of events highly vulnerable to chance. Sugar maples, the substrate for the fermented wood, were brought by settlers from eastern Canada to a small pocket of northern British Columbia, but although the conditions there were not quite right for harvesting sap, the trees remained and multiplied. The life of the wood begins with the death of a sugar maple in spring, when it is full of sweet sap. A storm uproots the tree, but to ferment rather than rot, it must remain standing, supported by its smaller neighbours that have withstood the winds. A fungus must find the tree, and together with the fermenting sap it produces the fine dark lines and colour variations that create unique dreamscapes in the wood. (During carving, a special drying/baking process kills the fungus.) Finally, the tree must be found in the wilderness and harvested when the fermentation is over but dry rot has not yet set in. This is where the work of nature ends and the experience and skill of the carver take over.

Red alpine cedar
This tree is a wonder and paradox: like the heart of a beloved person, it is soft, yet incredibly steadfast and lasting. Unlike its cousin, the fast-growing yellow cedar, the alpine red cedar takes centuries to reach its dignified beauty. Its rings are tightly packed, each reflecting a year of slow growth in the harsh northern highlands close to Alaska. Cut and polished, the hard red rings of winter shine like a gemstone, while the softer layers of the gentle northern summer reveal tiny sparks of silver and gold.

For more pictures and detailed descriptions of the carvings Peter does, click here

A short video of a Hand-carved fermented maple bowl that Peter created

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