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Wood Carving Tips and Secrets

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A Wood Carver ‘s Tips and Secrets

Bolek Maierik is a Polish stone and wood carver living in Plesa, Bukovina. It is a village from North Romania, mainly inhabited by Polish people. During the four years of study at the Art Academy in Poland, he was skipping classes to find himself by the river.

He returned to his homeland, sculpting and enjoying a peaceful life in the forest, where he finds peace creating wooden sculpture.

Pear Wood Carving

He shows us a portrait of his favorite historical figure in pear wood. Michael the Brave (1558-1601), prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia, who united the three principalities.


wood carving tips

The pear wood is a hard wood, without visible pores. The finest details can be carved with the sharpest of tools. It’s light color is the closest to human skin. A nice wood to carve, which takes detail very well.

The wood from old trees is his preferred choice. He considers the wood a living thing, which stores memories.


He never uses lacquer finish. In spite the theory that lacquer is a protective finish, he thinks it’s rather harmful, not allowing the wood to breathe. He would rather rub some olive oil on the surface. For patina, he uses a mixture of tar diluted in gasoline.


Linden Wood Carving

In the spring of 2014, he began to work on a set of linden wood carved panels. Linden is a soft white wood, with a smooth grain, excellent for wood carving panels and miniatures. It’ s color intensifies contrasts. This wood is ideal for carving faces and small sculptures.

It takes a month to finish carving a panel. First, he draws the scene on a single piece of wood.


wood carving

Next, areas of the carving are completely removed, so you can see through those areas. This technique is called pierced relief.


wood carving

Then, by taking away the material with a chisel, he creates the shape and details.


The Stations of the Cross

The set called “Stations of the Cross” consists of 14 pierced relief sculptures. They represent a visual reminder of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.

  1. Christ condemned to death
  2. Carrying his cross;
  3. Falling for the first time;
  4. Jesus meets his mother;
  5. Simon of Cyrene carrying His cross;
  6. The face of Jesus whipped by a woman;
  7. The second fall;
  8. Meeting the women of Jerusalem;
  9. The third fall;
  10. Jesus is stripped of his clothes;
  11. Crucifixion;
  12. His death on the cross;
  13. Jesus’ deposition;
  14. Jesus is laid in the tomb.


way of the cross

The origin of this devotion is traced to the Holy Land. When pilgrims came to visit Jerusalem, they were anxious to see the places where Jesus was.

way of the cross

The stations came about when it was no longer easy to visit the holy sites. In the XVI’th century, European villages started creating replicas of the way of the cross with shrines commemorating places along the route in Jerusalem.

way of the cross

Sycamore Maple Wood

The bass reliefs are carved into a flat panel of sycamore maple wood.

Bas Relief

The figures are carved into wood, leaving a flat background. The European sycamore has a straight grain and a fine texture. The wood is then treated with olive oil, protecting the fibers.

Walnut Wood Carving

Walnut is perfect for natural wood finish. With a dense grain, it can be carved with a gouges and mallet. The walnut sculptures are rich in color.

Spoonmaker’s Carved Wooden Ladle with Chain

  • An African woman in walnut


walnut wood carving

Bolek Maierik is also a stone carver. He began sculpting wood and stone at the age of 18, when he fell in love for the first time. This led to a monumental artwork that he carved on a cliff (read more).

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