The making of a sculpture

The bog where it all starts

All of my sculptures start from large pieces of bog oak which I have personally chosen and collected from a bog near Loughgall, Co Armagh, where the wood has been buried for over 6000 years.

The raw material is left to dry for up to five years. During this time I will be working at it, taking off some of the dead wood and silt that is on the surface. This is when you begin to see what sort of sculpture you are going to have, and the dynamics of the piece start to take shape.

Once dried, I begin to remove all the soft wood until I am left with only the hard bog oak core. This process is extremely long as the core wood is very hard this is evidenced in the metal spiked burrs I use on a 35ooo rpm tool will often become smooth within a couple of days and very little change in the sculpture.

It takes a lot of time and patience to get into all the nooks and crannies. You can sometimes start out with a very large piece of raw material and end up with quite a small sculpture, you can even end up with nothing sometimes.

The piece is then sanded with eight grades of paper, followed by oiling and wire wool. This process takes days and days as you can send all day sanding a very small area. Once I am happy with the final shape natural bees wax is applied and hand polished.

The spalted beech base is shaped and natural bees wax applied, with the final stage being the attaching of the sculpture to the base.

All of my pieces are unique and they name themselves from the sculptures they create.

Each sculpture comes with a framed certificate stating where the bog oak originated and its date of origin, which has been authenticated by Queen’s University, Belfast.

This is a dried piece which has been worked on over the past 3-4 years

This is a medium size piece I am working on at the moment

This is a dried piece ready to start, it has dried for about 4 years and I haven't done anything to it yet