Knock on wood

Knock on wood

Unique Hobbies

He spends most of his time chipping away. But that is only to sculpt objets d’art out of drift wood. These are pieces of self-expression that you don’t stumble upon everyday.

Rubbing shoulders with wood shells and branches, these wooden artefacts occupy a pride of place in S Soman’s home. Essentially, they are the fruits of a rather time-consuming labour. An art he has more or less perfected with practice.

Soman, who has worked in the wood industry for 30 years, finds multiple dimensions in wood. He is on a constant search to spot any wood piece that he could modify and give a form. An interest, that began 25 years ago, has not waned, not a bit.

“I took this up as a hobby after noticing the works of various artistes and leafing through different articles and photographs on the subject. But what really egged me on was my experience in the wood industry. This, coupled with an artistic bend of mind, led me thus far,” he says.

It would only be appropriate to call the collection a celebration in wood.
“The ideas come instinctly when I look at a piece of wood or stem. My collection includes birds perched on a branch, face of an elephant, the statue of a lady, pen stand, wood shells, crane, mongoose, flower vases, a lighted diya among others,” he says.

Wood may be easily available but is not quite an easy medium to work on. But that has not deterred Soman. And he knows where to look for the right piece of wood. “Over the years, I have been collecting branches, wood pieces and stems from lakesides, waterfalls, forest areas, saw mills etc. If you take a look at these pieces, you will notice that they have a natural shape. I was able to gather many such pieces from Shimoga,” he says.

Once he spots a choice piece of wood, he picks it up and modifies it according to what he visualises. “The natural shape is retained to some extent,” he says.

The desired look is the result of his imagination and craftsmanship.

“This is an avocation that does not need much investment apart from time. You really need to spend a lot of time on it. And I like to waste time on it,’’ he laughs.

“Any kind of general hardwood is good enough. For example, firewood, driftwood, lumber etc. The raw materials are not expensive. All you need is carpentry tools, sandpaper, a file, and the polish. For the polish, I use lacquer or feeler,” he informs.

Some of these pieces are painted in different colours and that gives them a pristine finish. Among the collectibles, the statue of the lady is an art apart. “To sculpt the lady, I took one-and-a-half years. The statue is two feet tall,” he says. The effort certainly has paid off.

“As vital as modifying is preserving these works of art. These are sensitive items,” he says. “I have also given away many of these items as gifts,” he adds.

There is a certain versatility about his creations. But so has wood. Indeed, Soman has
exploited this medium, with all its characteristics, to his best. As the collectibles grow bigger and wider, so does his ideas.

“I am also planning to make coffee-tables and stools. But that needs a bigger space. The dream, however, is to exhibit all these in a gallery,” he adds. As he works towards it, he admits that he gets immense support from his family.

Meanwhile, the collectibles have given ‘wooden expression’ a whole new meaning.

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