Branches and limbs for sale
This cedar log is over 1 meter diameter.
Roots like this make great table bases.
|The Medium and Methods I use
My wood sculptures are all carved from the local timbers, of the North Coast where I live. My favourites of these are the Australian Red Cedar (Toona Australis)and Rosewood (Dysoxylum fraseranum). But I always eye off every piece of wood for potential regardless of species when I am in the bush, down by the river or out scavenging in the estury.
I use all parts of the tree particularly those bits rejected by those seeking straight grain timber for furniture- mainly the buttresses, roots, forks, knotty or faulty limbs, or the butt of the tree.
Red Cedar is now a very rare commodity in Australia. NSW State Forests sell a few logs occasionally and very few trees are felled privately. Attending private auctions and responding to personal contacts has enabled me to accumulate 3 tons of Rosewood and over 2 tons of Cedar, some of it cut over a hundred years ago. This stock is very valuable - newly cut Cedar and Rosewood limb, butt and root off-cuts cost $400 to $1,000 per cubic meter ($40/cub foot). Seasoned and sawn timber ranges from $2,500 to $5,000 per cubic meter depending on age, colour and size.
Sculptors, carvers, turners and cabinet makers take note:
Once the decision is made and the piece started, I generally work continuously until it is completed. This is somewhat necessary a most timbers fade if left unsealed for long. Sometimes the piece I select will have such a dominant form or feeling that it dictates the final product. However, my doodlings with the pencil often lead to designs where the concept requires a particular shape of wood and if I do not have the right piece in stock, the idea remains in the fourth dimension.
Once the decision is made and the piece started, I generally work continuously until it is completed. This is somewhat necessary a most timbers fade if left unsealed for long. Sometimes the piece I select will have such a dominant form or feeling that it dictates the final product. However, my doodlings with the pencil often lead to designs where the concept requires a particular shape of wood and if I do not have the right piece in stock, the idea remains in the fourth dimension.TOOLS
The type and degree of reflection of the surfaces of a sculpture has a profound influence on the impression in the observer. I can be pretty meticulous at times in getting the finnish I want. I do not like the highly reflective effect of the commercial products so, as my sculptures are for indoors I stick exclusively to French Polish. The French polishing then begins; firstly rubbing with pumice and shellac, then 24 to 30 thin coats of shellac, rubbing back the first two with 400 grade paper, then the next with 800 grade and the rest with very fine steel-wool. Some pieces are left with this extremely high polish. Most are more suited to a less reflective treatment. These works are lightly rubbed with steel wool and then waxed with a very fine coat of warmed bees wax and then polished. This final process of filling, French polishing and waxing takes 3 to 5 weeks and ensures that the natural beauty of the wood is seen at its best, in that deep glowing lustre obtainable only by traditional labour-intensive methods. Whilst not ruling out limited use of waxes and oils for some works, Leigh abhors the destruction of the timbers character by the use of epoxy fillers and artificial finishes. Leigh never uses tints, dyes or stains. THE REWARDS
The real reward for this effort is not fiscal but the “lasting satisfaction I get from my own interaction with my sculptures as they emerge, and particularly watching others smile and soak up the character the sculpture evokes. Finally, the thrill as irresistibly they stroke the surface, gliding their hands over the form, absorbing the warmth and sensuousness the sculptures will give forever.