Saturday, 29 September 2012

Bit chilly out

When I look at artificially created deadwood 99% of the time it looks very poor compared to naturally aged sections of the tree. I dont mean the initial carving to add a basic shape to the wood but the finishing as this stage needs to show the effect of weathering where the manual methods used seem to remove it. Even sandblasting goes against convincing aging as the method removes the surface layer that has the cracks forming, although blasting is a good initial stage to make definition between the hard and soft wood.

Nature makes a maze of cracks, splits and grooves that vary in width and depth while following the grain perfectly, while power tools often make uniform grooves that follow the hand of the operator ! A scalpel is good for making a few slices in the wood surface but if overused looks just as false and uniform as power tools. Over the years I've noticed how the weather conditions directly effect the appearance of the deadwood - in wet weather the wood is swollen, the large cracks are smaller and the fine cracks have often disappeareed completely and when the wood dries in the sun it shrinks back, opening the cracks up again.

After a good cold winter I've noticed how much better the wood has aged and I think this comes from wet wood freezing so the ice opens the existing cracks up and also makes new ones. With this in mind I have been developing a brand new tecnique to put the deadwood through as many freezing winter days as possible, in a much shorter time scale.

This little can directs an icy blast of -50 degrees onto the deadwood - freezing it absolutely solid in moments.

(If you are working with new wood add a few score lines with a scalpel, working with the grain.)
First off the wood needs to be saturated, so spray it well or better still start the work after a few days of rain. - Give the wood one more fine spray so the existing cracks are full of water, then shield or protect the foliage before directing the spray onto the area being worked on.

 After treating for a minute at most, working is short bursts, the jin is frozen solid and the cracks are visibly full of ice. I then spray the jin again to thaw it out and repeat the work four or five times over an afterrnoon working on the trees.

 After one final freezing of the working area I let the wood thaw naturally. You can speed the cracking up at this stage if you use a hair dryer to dry and quickly shrink the wood, or you can just let it dry in the sun.

These two pictures are genuinely taken one hour apart - top one before treating and lower one after 5 freeze treatments - This is probably more weathering than an entire Cornish winter on one September afternoon

Even the colour has improved - I think this visibly proves you can help nature and weathering along a bit

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