The journey of a hand-carved piece…

Our carvings are made from the Monkey Pod tree. Branches from the tree are generally cut between one to two meters in length and delivered to the carving facility. Branches rejuvenate very fast. Occasionally a tree is cut and used for large one piece carvings. As the trees grow quickly a new tree soon takes its place. Monkey Pod has greater then 50% Moisture Content (MC) when first cut.

Once the larger pieces are brought to the carving facility, the wood is then rough cut by chain saw into the shape of the product that will be made from this batch of wood. Scrap is used for small carvings and heating homes in the cool season.

It takes skill and time to rough carve a shape like the Twist leaving enough material for the finish carvers to make consistent shapes. The carving is done while the wood is still wet. The picture shown here is a roughed out Twist made by the chain saw operator. The wood is still very wet and will shrink and crack by a large percentage.

This picture shows a roughed out Cube body. The hardest part is carving out the inside. The wood is still wet and the blades of the chain saw can jam easily if care is not used during carving.

Finish carvers have generations of experience behind them and work by the “feel” of the wood. Carving is not a full time job and is generally a family affair involving cousins and close friends. Being an agricultural society, carving can slow down or stop during the rainy season for rice planting and again for harvesting.

A skilled carver knows what tool to select based on how the wood feels and what they see as they are working. Tools are generally hand made and every carver has their own set they have created for the work they perform.

After hand carving, the rough products are brought to a solar oven where over a period of months they are brought down to below 11% MC (moisture content) as measured with non-invasive and invasive Delmhorst wood lumber meters.

At the end of the final drying stage we raise the temperature high enough (80°-90°C or 176°-194°F) to insure that there are no parasites in the wood. Drying can be difficult as most of our designs have varying wall thickness.

The product is sanded to smooth the rough carving into the desired shape. This is all done by hand so every piece is unique, sizes are not exact, and products are not perfectly square. The beauty of the completely unique piece can start to be seen at this time.

Now that rough sanding has exposed all of the natural and drying cracks and wood inclusions, these areas are blended and smoothed. The product then goes through final Quality Controls, individually piece by piece, to discuss any corrections required with the finish sanders. Once approved oil is applied.

Applying the oil is a time consuming art. The oils are applied in three stages over the course of five to seven work days. No wood sealers or chemical bases are used, so there can be dull and rough spots. This is keeping with the manufacturer’s policy of creating an all natural piece that can complete the product life cycle and be safely disposed of into the earth from which it came.

To read more about the oils used, click here.