A Trunk Is Transformed into a Sculpture
The first phase of sculpture begins with finding the timber. I usually use rough trunks of large trees aged 100-800 years. I found and bought some trunks from timber yards, a few were given for free. But most of them I collect personally over the island of Crete, mainly trees uprooted by natural disasters or dried. I cut them with a chainsaw and transported with trucks and cranes in the workshop.
The collection of the trunks
After cutting the trunk outdoors, then still outside or in the workshop I clean the damaged parts and remove the skins in order not to catch worms. Then spend the wood preservative for the work on it later. When deciding the project I want to do the plan at actual size and then I create the sculpture.
Conservation of the woods, peeling and removing damaged parts
The tools I use in curving are just a hammer and different kinds of chisels.
Each tree has its own story
Each tree has its own story. For example, I collected some fallen trees from the Monasteries of Arkadi and Vosakos. When I was curving them I began to discover inside the trunks bullets from the conflicts between the Cretans and the Turks one hundred fifty years ago.
Bullets found inside the trunks
Depending on the size and details of a sculpture the work can last several months.
A Tree Is Transformed into a Sculpture
Othertreeto two kids hand-in-hand
What Kind of woods I use
The woods which usually I find and work in Crete are eucalyptus, olive, lemon tree, oak, pine, cypress, mulberry and walnut.
Eucalyptus is a flowering tree in the myrtle family. There are more than 700 species of Eucalyptus, mostly native to Australia, and a very small number are found in adjacent parts of New Guinea and Indonesia and one as far north as the Philippine archipelago. The generic name is derived from the Greek words ευ (eu), meaning “well,” and καλυπτος (kalyptos), meaning well “covered,” which refers to the operculum on the calyx that initially conceals the flower. Eucalyptus has attracted attention from global development researchers and environmentalists. It is a fast-growing source of wood, its oil can be used for cleaning and functions as a natural insecticide, and it is sometimes used to drain swamps and thereby reduce the risk of malaria. Eucalyptus regnans is the tallest of all flowering plants (Angiosperms); today, the tallest measured specimen named Centurion is 99.6 m tall. Eucalypts originated between 35 and 50 million years ago.
Eucalyptus, the tree and its sculpture
The Olive is a tree in the family Oleaceae, native to the coastal areas of the eastern Mediterranean Basin. It is short and squat, and rarely exceeds 8–15 meters in height. The olive is one of the plants most often cited in literature. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus crawls beneath two shoots of olive that grow from a single stock, and in the Iliad, is a metaphoric description of a lone olive tree in the mountains, by a spring. Olive was one of the woods used to fashion the most primitive Greek cult figures, called xoana, referring to their wooden material; they were reverently preserved for centuries. In an archaic Athenian foundation myth, Athena won the patronship of Attica from Poseidon with the gift of the olive. Though, according to the 4th-century BC father of botany, Theophrastus, olive trees ordinarily attained an age of about 200 years, he mentions that the very olive tree of Athena still grew on the Acropolis; it was still to be seen there in the second century AD; and when Pausanias was shown it, 70 AD, he reported “Legend also says that when the Persians fired Athens the olive was burnt down, but on the very day it was burnt it grew again to the height of two cubits”. The olive was sacred to Athena and appeared on the Athenian coinage. Olive oil has long been considered sacred; it was used to anoint kings and athletes in ancient Greece. It was burnt in the sacred lamps of temples as well as being the “eternal flame” of the original Olympic Games. Victors in these games were crowned with its leaves. Over the years, the olive has been the symbol of peace, wisdom, glory, fertility, power and pureness. Τhe age of an olive tree in Crete, claimed to be over 2,000 years old, has been determined on the basis of tree ring analysis, while there are tens of ancient olive trees throughout Biblical Israel, 1.600-2.000 years old.
Olive-tree, the tree and its sculpture
The lemon is a small evergreen tree (Citrus and limon) originally native to Asia. The exact origin of the lemon has remained a mystery, though it is widely presumed that lemons first grew in India, northern Burma, and China. In South and South East Asia, it was known for its antiseptic properties and it was used as an antidote for various poisons. Lemons entered Europe (near southern Italy) no later than the first century AD, during the time of Ancient Rome. However, they were not widely cultivated. It was later introduced to Persia and then to Iraq and Egypt around AD 700. The lemon was first recorded in literature in a tenth century Arabic treatise on farming, and was also used as an ornamental plant in early Islamic gardens. The genetic origin of the lemon was reported to be hybrid between sour orange and citron. The word ‘lemon’ derives from the Persian word لیمو Limu, which relates to the sacristan word nimbuka.
Lemon-tree, the tree and its sculpture
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus, of which about 600 species exist on earth. The genus is native to the northern hemisphere. Oak wood has a density of about 0.75 g/cm³, great strength and hardness, and is very resistant to insect and fungal attack because of its high tannin content. Wide, quarter-sawn boards of oak have been prized since the Middle Ages for use in interior paneling of prestigious buildings such as the debating chamber of the British House of Commons in London, England. Oak wood, from Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, was used in Europe for the construction of ships, especially naval men of war, until the 19th century, and was the principal timber used in the construction of European timber-framed buildings. Today oak wood is still commonly used for furniture making and flooring, timber frame buildings, and for veneer production. Barrels in which red wines, sherry, brandy and spirits such as Scotch whisky and Bourbon whiskey are aged are made from European and American oak. In Classical mythology, the oak was a symbol of Zeus and his sacred tree.
Oak, the tree and its sculpture
The Stone Pine is a species of pine native to Southern Europe, North Africa and the Levant in the Mediterranean region. This tree has been exploited for its edible pine nuts since prehistoric times. The Stone Pine can exceed 25 m height. It has a very characteristic umbrella-like shape, with a short trunk and very broad, smoothly rounded to nearly flat crown. It has been cultivated extensively for at least 6,000 years for the edible seeds.
Stone pine, the tree and its sculpture
Cypress is the name applied to many plants in the cypress family. Most cypress species are trees, while a few are shrubs. The word “cypress” is derived from Old French “cipres”, which was imported from Latin “cyparissus,” which originated in Greek: “κυπάρισσος” “kyparissos”. In Greek mythology, the cypress is associated with Artemis. Cupressus sempervirens is the principal cemetery tree both in the Western and Muslim worlds. Cypress was the first choice for Iranian Gardens. The oldest living Cypress is the Sarv-e-Abarkooh in Iran’s Yazd Province. Its age is estimated to be approximately 4000 years.
Cypress, the tree and its sculpture
Morus or Mulberry is a genus of 10–16 species of deciduous trees native to warm temperate and subtropical regions of Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. Over 150 species names have been published. Black, red, and white mulberry are widespread in Northern India, Azerbaijan, Jordan, Syria, Armenia, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot (mulberry) or shahtoot (King’s or “superior” mulberry). Mulberry leaves, particularly those of the white mulberry, are ecologically important as the sole food source of the silkworm (Bombyx mori, named after the mulberry genus Morus), the pupa/cocoon of which is used to make silk.
Mulberry, the tree and its sculpture
Walnuts are plants in the family Juglandaceae. They are deciduous trees, 10–40 meters tall. The 21 species in the genus range across the north temperate Old World from southeast Europe east to Japan, and more widely in the New World from southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina. The Latin name, Juglans, derives from Jupiter glans, “Jupiter’s acorn“: figuratively, a nut fit for a god.
Walnut, the tree and its sculpture