Making a Driftwood Horse – Part 1

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One project that I have been contemplating for a long time is making a driftwood horse. I was inspired by the magnificent sculptures of Heather Jansch and began gathering up bits of driftwood over a year ago. Whilst clearing some space in the garden shed, I came across them and decided that the fine Easter weather presented a perfect opportunity to finally put them to good use.

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I expected there to be a lot of planning and technical work involved in this type of work but all of the advice offered by artists is just to jump in and see how it goes! In terms of tools and equipment, all you need is a screw driver, screws and a wood saw.

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I began by laying out the bits of wood and working out the best way to create a basic horse shape. I am not going to be too ambitious with this one so four reasonably straight lengths for the legs and some pieces of suitable length for the body and head are enough to get started. After that, it is basically a matter of using your imagination and turning the driftwood until you think it suggests the area of the horse you are working on.

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With the wood obviously being quite rounded, I found that it can sometimes be a good idea to put in a supporting screw here and there until you are happy that it is in the right place. Once you have a definite fit, sink the screws into the surface and they can be covered up later. The amount of detail you put in depends on the individual artist. As this is my first attempt at a driftwood sculpture my main priority is that it looks like a horse when it is finished!

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The great thing about these sculptures is that they are intended to stay outside, open to the elements. Their surface will change as it gets weathered and they can make striking features in the garden. I am hoping that I can make mine secure enough to survive the strongest winds. If they are not too solid, the wind should theoretically pass through them but I will have to let you know about that!

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After seven hours work I now have the makings of a horse. I want the horse to be turning its head slightly so I have just put in the basic framework and will work in the detail using smaller pieces of wood. Some of the longer pieces can be trimmed off later. Hopefully there will be another fine day tomorrow so that I can make further progress.

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