designed by nature, imagined by artist steve lloyd
Alaska Driftwood Art

The burl-covered section is very challenging to work with, since the protrusions require me to do all the work by hand instead of using a power sander, as I am able to on the smoother piece. In the close-up you can see sections that have been worked with the initial abrasives, adjacent to the silvery wood that formed the outer layer when the branch was found.


Ultimately, the two Beach Runners will be mounted together on a granite or wood base that displays the unique natural characteristics of both pieces. I still have a lot of work to do, but I'm excited to see how striking the piece will look when it's done.

Beach Runners


I found these two pieces of driftwood on different beaches, separated by dozens of nautical miles. But to me, they seem destined to be together. Like fantastic, alien bipeds they appear be racing along in a playful sprint. The thicker piece is a spruce branch featuring a finely-swirled pattern on its dark surface that will glisten once it is fully polished. Its lumpy companion is covered with burls, warty-looking growths caused by environmental stress or in by a tree that might otherwise be perfectly healthy.


The photos show both pieces after they have been allowed to fully dry, but before I've done any sanding or shaping. Both pieces have a few small splits and damaged areas that I am in the process of filling and repairing. I am partway through the sanding process, which is an exciting stage because it removes the thin outer layer that is gray and oxidized, revealing the true color and grain of the wood that will appear in the finished piece.


After many months of drying, I have begun sanding the piece and thinking about how to finish it. The cedar is so soft that there are a number of bumps and abrasions that have indented the otherwise silky-smooth fibers of the wood. I have to decide whether to leave them alone, or fill them, or sand them out. Each of these approaches have merits, but each requires a different approach to the work. For now I am enjoying the process of exploring the piece, marveling at the natural growth process that produced such an amazing shape.

Seahorse


This is the single neatest piece of driftwood I have ever found. Ever. It is a section of yellow cedar that washed up on a small pocket beach at the northern end of Perry Island, facing Wells Passage. It was almost completely buried in a massive pile of spruce needles, small sticks and seaweed. As I knelt down and used my hands to scrape it clean, the shape and texture of the wood became visible and I felt sure I'd found a truly unique piece.


For now I am calling it "seahorse" after its distinctive profile, but others have suggested that it more closely resembles a certain cartoon character, or the fire-breathing sidekick from a wildly popular TV series..


After many months of drying, I have begun sanding the piece and thinking about how to finish it. The cedar is so soft that there are a number of bumps and abrasions that have indented the otherwise silky-smooth fibers of the wood. I have to decide whether to leave them alone, or fill them, or sand them out. Each of these approaches have merits, but each requires a different approach to the work. For now I am enjoying the process of exploring the piece, marveling at the natural growth process that produced such an amazing shape.

In order to share some of these projects and pieces (sometimes long before they are born as Alaska Driftwood Art) I've created this Works in Progress page to showcase some of the creations that I am currently working on. I will also feature some special driftwood finds that are not yet part of a sculpture or project, but which I plan to use in the future.




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Seahorse


This is the single neatest piece of driftwood I have ever found. Ever. It is a section of yellow cedar that washed up on a small pocket beach at the northern end of Perry Island, facing Wells Passage. It was almost completely buried in a massive pile of spruce needles, small sticks and seaweed. As I knelt down and used my hands to scrape it clean, the shape and texture of the wood became visible and I felt sure I'd found a truly unique piece.


For now I am calling it "seahorse" after its distinctive profile, but others have suggested that it more closely resembles a certain cartoon character, or the fire-breathing sidekick from a wildly popular TV series..

Works in Progress

Unless I am working to complete a commissioned piece before deadline, I rarely work on just one project at a time. The nature of crafting art from a natural product such as driftwood requires that the wood be allowed to dry, that glue joints cure, that finishes harden. Sometimes a project needs to be given a rest partway through, while I visually absorb the shapes and patterns of the material and decide how best to complete it. And too, the process of smoothing and sanding wood by hand can be physically taxing, with sore muscles and raw fingertips, so I find it best to be able to move between several projects of different kinds.



For these reasons, some of my creations remain "works in progress" for some time before they are completed. I may find a unique piece of driftwood that I just know will become a beautiful sculpture someday, but initially I may have no clue what to do with it. Friends who visit my studio, or who meet my boat at the dock to help unload a fresh haul of driftwood, often ask to see that one special piece that I've just found, but have not yet begun to finish.




LIKE WHAT YOU SEE? Custom commissions are available.

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