Back in my studio, I often let my selection of material be guided by what I've seen during countless beach walks. How would these sticks look if they had just been tossed up by a storm? What shape would this branch be if I had just extracted it from a tangled mass of floating tree limbs and roots? What color was this piece of hardwood before it was bleached by exposure to saltwater and long days of Alaskan summer sunlight?
I pay close attention to the natural "sculptures" that each beach holds. The action of the tide and the force of storm-driven waves constantly rearrange driftwood and other flotsam, depositing thousands of individual pieces into intricate, multi-textured arrangements of wood, seaweed, sand and rock.
I observe the ways that tree stumps become embedded in beach gravel, and that hundreds of tiny sticks float into swirling patterns before the ebbing tide deposits them gently into a natural work of art.
I collect big pieces of wood to use in my furniture creations and large sculptures, but I also collect thousands of small "drift sticks" that comprise some of the intricate designs and embellishments that adorn my more complicated pieces.
Most of the pieces I collect find their way into one of my creations exactly as they were found. The ocean surf has shaped and polished each piece of wood, subtly texturing them as they roll against the rocky shoreline or become twisted and bent as the crashing surf pounds the wood into seemingly impossible shapes.
with Alaskan Driftwood from Prince William Sound
On every beach that I visit, I am constantly imagining new shapes and designs for the sculptures and functional pieces that I create from Alaskan driftwood. When I discover a particularly beautiful piece of wood, or see a section of a tree or bush that nature has sculpted into a seemingly impossible shape, I try to visualize how it could fit into a future project. Is it the shape of a fish, bird, or animal? Is it a table-leg or other structural piece for a furniture creation? Is it a twisted root that suggests a part of an abstract sculpture?
Many times, a new creation begins to take form in my mind as I walk the shoreline, discovering unique and wonderful driftwood shapes lodged amongst the seaweed and beach gravel.
Please visit my Gallery page to see some of my recent Alaska driftwood creations.