Another tool needed for working with wood is a wooden mallet, which allows you to handle the material freely with the minimum of force. In the era of power tools, I often use a jigsaw, mainly for carvings. In places that are difficult to reach even with a small chisel, I use a milling machine with a sharp milling cutter (due to the more efficient and faster achievement of the desired effect), while for large surfaces – an angle grinder with appropriate discs. In my struggles with the material of wood, I have encountered various ways of finishing sculptures. I myself am a supporter of rubbing the surface treated with a chisel with sandpaper. Sandpaper makes the surface even, makes the wood look silky and matte. Often, especially in the case of religious works, I cover the sculptures with a layer of soil, glue-chalk mortar and gold.
Working with wood is also associated with proper discipline. The table on which the chisels are placed should be kept in order. Under no circumstances should they touch the sharpened tips. The chisel itself should be put down very carefully, preferably on a wooden or linen table, and you should also avoid working with chisels and sandpaper at the same time, as this causes faster wear of the tools during sharpening. I know from experience that every woodcarver treats his workshop as a metaphorical extension of his hand and does not even let anyone sharpen the chisels for him.
Sometimes it seems to me that this is not an ecological job, if we take into account the amount of wooden sawdust that remains after processing the sculpture. Naturally, wood waste is used to heat the workshop and thus also fulfill its purpose. In my workshop, I make sure that the material for the sculpture is selected from the healthiest and dry wood possible. The massif from which the sculpture is made is glued so that there is as little sawdust waste as possible.
The process of creating a wooden sculpture, as well as a stone sculpture, is very simple. In the first stage, a clay model is created, which, after approval by the sculptor himself or the client, is cast in plaster, acrylic plaster or resin. Then the sculpture is pierced into the material (wood or stone) according to the resulting model (in the case of metal casting, the sculpture may even be cut into smaller elements). Then, the artist’s traditionally understood work begins in a block roughly defined on the basis of a clay pattern.
I took my first sculptural steps in this area under the supervision of my parents Ewa and Marek Blajerski. Sławek Matwijczuk, a woodcarver, also had a great influence on my workshop in wood, who taught me how to sharpen a chisel correctly and how to get serious about working with the material. My first activities under the supervision of Sławek consisted of cutting openwork carvings with motifs of various flowers, and later also according to my own designs. In the meantime, my parents suggested various small sculptures for me to make, thanks to which I could become more familiar with the linden wood material. Together with my parents, I created sculptures of Jesus on the Cross, Mary and John at the Cross in oak, which can be admired today in the church in Nowa Dęba.
The biggest “wooden” challenge for me was the cooperation with my friend Mariusz Dydo, with whom I created four life-size sculptures of the Fathers of the Church and two angels for the Altar of the Fatherland in the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw. Ornaments for this altar were also a side effect of the work. In 2012, however, using my experience in ornamentation, I made a fragment of an ornament in an oak tree for a palace and castle interior from the vicinity of Vienna.
So far, I have had the opportunity to work in linden, oak, walnut, poplar, pine and pear. Each of them has different, characteristic properties: hardness, brittleness, graining. Working in any type of wood gives me great satisfaction. It is often arduous and demanding, but the final satisfaction with the work done allows you to breathe and gives you the strength to take up further artistic challenges. I never do the same project more than once. The work then becomes monotonous and does not bring me creative satisfaction.
Furniture and wooden furniture – something from the neighboring barrel
A very interesting, although more utilitarian, variety of woodworking is the furniture industry. For me, the precursors were naturally parents who made countless carved furniture to order – starting from tables, chairs, benches, desks, consoles, and ending with fancifully bent handrails for stairs and coats of arms ordered by wealthier citizens. All of my parents’ works of this kind referred stylistically to different eras in the history of Polish and broadly understood European furniture. I have often cooperated with them in this area, gaining experience for my own business. I am able to realize multiple orders, ranging from the full woodwork of the furniture to the smallest detail made by hand. I am also willing to reconstruct furniture that has been damaged. Ceramic sculpture – history and the process of its creation