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. Religious and passionate about history, the artworks he creates illustrate his devotion.
Pear Wood Carving
He sculpted the portrait of his favorite historical figure in pear wood. Michael the Brave (1558-1601), prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia, united the three principalities. Coincidence or not, the day of his death, on august 9, is the same day when Maierik Bolek was born.
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. It is why he sculpted the Saint Pope John Paul II on a 150 years old tree trunk. It is the pear of his childhood and his grandparents’.
Somehow, he knows that the old pear also stores memories of him as a child. Knowing that the wood is alive, never covers it in lacquer. 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.
Next, areas of the carving are completely removed, so you can see through those areas. This technique is called pierced relief.
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 Jesus’ last hours.
- Christ condemned to death
- Carrying his cross;
- Falling for the first time;
- Jesus meets his mother;
- Simon of Cyrene carrying His cross;
- The face of Jesus whipped by Veronica;
- The second fall;
- Meeting the women of Jerusalem;
- The third fall;
- Jesus is stripped of his clothes;
- His death on the cross;
- Jesus’ deposition;
- Jesus is laid in the tomb.
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. Following in the footsteps of Christ became a holy connection with Him.
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. They became the set of 14 stations placed in almost every Catholic Church.
Sycamore Maple Wood
The bass reliefs are carved into a flat panel of sycamore maple wood.
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.
- An African woman in walnut
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).