Monday, May 5, 2008

Plywood Veneer Sculptures - Paul Baden

When I lived in Massachusetts, I took a woodworking class from a man named, Art Moses, a great guy who, in retrospect, reminds me a lot of Isaiah Zagar. He was always doing things like handing groups of young women chain saws and asking us to carve telephone poles.

Good times.

The class had brief access to a big shop that contained industrial woodworking tools. Even though we were only there a couple of times, I really enjoyed learning how to use them.

Each student made one plywood veneer project in the shop. Unfortunately, I don’t have a decent photo of my sculpture I but it is actually pretty. It sort of twists gracefully toward the top...something the photo doesn't represent. The process was a little bit complicated and involved weights, clamps, wood glue, fancy drills and other mystery devices….but the finished product is graceful and shows many interesting layers of wood and nice curves.

Japanese Boomerang by Stacy Alexander

My whole reason for mentioning this is because this project was my first and only experience making plywood veneer sculpture, although I remain a great admirer of the form today. One of the best artists I’ve found who makes art using this method is named Paul Baden. Paul hails from the U.K.

Paul Baden

He is relatively fresh to the fine art scene. Paul was a cartographic draughtsman for over 20 years and has always been fascinated by the undulating landscape that surrounds us.

He is a self taught carver and has found his own way of working with that material. When he first used plywood he was taken by the way the uniform layers mimic the contours found on maps.

So what better material for a map maker to use for his sculptures? As the wood veneers have individual character, texture and color, every sculpture creates its own unique three dimensional landscape that tempts the hand to explore it.

What on the surface appears a utilitarian material hides an amazing beauty within its depths. Finding that hidden beauty within the plywood sculpture is actually the very challenge that Paul loves.

Paul brings his experiences of maps and the human body into his wood sculptures with ease.

A large part of Paul's work deals with his fascination with the many different shapes the human figure can assume; at rest or play, thoughtful or exuberant.

His extensive knowledge of human anatomy is apparent. He seems to almost brings these pieces of wood to life.

Paul also created an entire series of abstract human faces.

My personal favorite Paul Baden sculpture is this smooth, simple pear.

Looks good enough to eat. Doesn't it?!

You can see more of Paul's beautiful sculptures at his web site HERE.


Kim Larson said...

His work is unbelievably beautiful and the nudes, especially, are right up my alley! Awesome photos too.

Sandy said...

WOW! Absolutely inspirational!
Have a fabulous day.

Alan Roberta said...

Great stuff...........

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