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Wood Carving Tips and Secrets From Polish Artisan Bolek Maierik

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Wood Artisan Bolek Maierik Wood Carving Figures and Pierced Relief Sculptures

Bolek Maierik is a Polish stone carver and wood artisan living in Pleșa, Bucovina, a north Romanian village, mainly inhabited by Polish people. After four years of studying the Art Academy in Poland, he returns to his homeland, wood carving and enjoying a peaceful life by the forest, where he finds peace creating wooden sculpture.

Wood Artisan Bolek Maierik Wood Carving Figures

The greatest surprise a visitor to can have is to come upon portraits of historical figures. This one here, executed in pear wood, depicts  prince of Wallachia, Transylvania and Moldavia, Michael the Brave (1558-1601), who united the three principalities.

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Pear, Linden, Sycamore and Walnut Wood Carving

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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.

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 Pierced Relief Sculptures Stations of the Cross

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

Wood Carving Pierced Relief Sculptures Stations of the Cross

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

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The Stations of the Cross

Wood Carving Pierced Relief Sculptures Stations of the Cross

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

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.

Wood Carving Pierced Relief Sculptures Stations 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.
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.

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.

Wood Carving Tips and Secrets

Bolek Maierik also loves trying stone carving. 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.

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