The latest project to be completed at Ecoarts is a sculpture of an owl. A neglected tree stump at Frugaldom had been selected as an ideal place to site the sculpture. The idea was to make the owl appear to be landing on the tree stump with its wings outstretched.
The sculpture was partly inspired by a discarded tree root which provided a strong stem for the body and several thick shoots to represent the wings. Before I could begin work on the sculpture, all of the rotten wood had to be cut and scraped out of the root. I then viewed it from several angles before deciding which was the most advantageous to create the basic shape of the owl.
It was then just a matter of cutting away the unnecessary roots before fixing it to a temporary base. The sculpture will sit in the landscape at Frugaldom once it has been completed but I had to make certain that it was secure before I could begin work. A couple of spare metal brackets were ideal as these can be removed at a later date.
I used an assortment of salvaged wood for this sculpture. What remained of the root was very solid so it was ideal for screwing in the new pieces. I started with the wings by adding some curved lengths of wood with a gentle angle from top to bottom. There was sufficient root to give a suggestion of a tail, enough to build on. The structure was not very secure in the early stages, but as more pieces are added, the more rigid it becomes.
The body of the owl is solid wood so I used extra support underneath along with a suitable piece of wood that could be carved to make the legs. It is surprising how quickly a sculpture develops in the early stages but there is more detailed work later in the project. The face of the owl appears quite flat from a distance but it also need to be sculpted.
I used the same method as with my previous owl sculpture. This involves mixing glue and shavings to mould the features of the owl. Not all of it adheres to the surface but you can add/remove as many layers as you wish and keep carving into them until you are satisfied.
I then used some suitably gnarled pieces of wood for the feet and talons of the owl. Any old or weakened wood can easily be cut away and a new piece added. I applied a little more shavings to the feet and shaped the face and beak.
The owl was going to have quite a high perch at Frugaldom so I viewed the sculpture from a lower angle to get some idea of how it would look on site.