This past week has been a little odd for reasons I won’t go into here. One of the best things to come out of the past seven days has been the trophy I made that you can see in the photograph.
You may be looking at it thinking ‘er what is it for’, and I don’t blame you for that as its not really self explanatory unless you know what you’re looking at.
As well as being a wood carver I am an archer and I shoot a primitive bow (little more than a shaped Ash stick and yes I did make it myself with some help) and I belong to a group called the Prehistoric Archery and Atlatl Society or PAAS. You can learn a little more about the group here.
Last year the PAAS held the first ever Primitive Archery Championships and I attended, its where I learned how to throw a 6ft long dart using an Atlatl (but thats another story). Soon after that I joined the group and offered to make a trophy to be given away at this years event.
For ages I couldn’t think what I wanted to make, I was worried about what people would be pleased to receive, what was relevant and what was suitable. Every idea I came up with just seemed wrong in my gut, the day was getting closer and I didn’t have anything made. I ran through countless options but none was right, everything seemed to be too ‘polished’ and not ‘primitive’ enough. My instincts were screaming at me that my thoughts were wrong.
I was getting slightly panicky, I couldn’t even find a suitable piece of wood, something native was requested so as to fit in more with the ethos of the group. Then I walked past this piece of English Pear wood sitting on a work bench that had fallen off of a log when I was using it to split smaller logs for the wood burner last summer. When it happened I decided to keep the interesting looking piece rather than burn it, I knew it would come in handy at some point. I was fascinated by the different colours within the wood as I have only ever seem steamed pear before this, this is air dried pear from my mums friends garden more than 20 years ago (they should be nice and dry by now!).
As soon as I found it I knew it would make a great trophy and that the PAAS logo would look great carved in relief onto it as was with no smoothing of the wood. My instinct had finally kicked in with good feelings. Once the relief was carved I thought that it didn’t stand out enough so I painted it in with acrylic and added some rottenstone over the paint to age it. Painting on Danish Oil darkened the wood beautifully but removed all the rottenstone, the paint looked too bright without it so I re added the rottenstone before the oil dried in the hope that the oil will help it to stay put.
I am really pleased with the result as I think its really quite effective and to me looks like a cave painting (I know its on wood but the spirit of cave painting, though I can’t take any credit for the logo design). I loved making it, and if they tell me that they liked it and the Championships are run again next year I’d love to make another.
Unfortunately, and sadly, for various reasons I can’t get to the championships this year so I’ve posted off the trophy and by the time you read this it should be there (without me which is sad). I don’t know who will win it, obviously, but I hope that they like it and are proud to be its new owner.
If you’re reading this and you’re going to the Championships this weekend have a great time and know that I’m really jealous of you……
Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .