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Sculptor works with wood formed 200m years ago

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Sculptor Martyn Bednarczuk is used to carving wildlife figures out of stone, wood, and bronze – but now he has turned his hand to a more unusual ancient material.

As the son of a cabinet maker, Martyn discovered his talent at a young age making oak furniture and progressed to creating lifelike birds and animals.

Now Martyn has decided to use his skills to work with 200-million-year-old petrified wood.

Martyn, 58, who works from Huntley’s Country Stores, in Samlesbury, has been 
sculpting for almost 30 years and is now a member of the Master Carvers’ Association.

He said: “Basically, petrified wood is wood that’s turned to stone through petrification. It is harder than granite.

“There’s a chemical 
process which causes it, but if you sculpt a figure out of it, it’s really really hard and can be polished and all these opal colours come through and it is quite beautiful, really.”

Martyn started working with his dad, who is also called Martyn, but found he preferred sculpting to wood turning.

He said: “I picked up a lot of skills from him and I 
progressed more and I became a member of the Master Carvers Association and that’s where I am now.

“I also do chainsaw carving as well – my latest job was an Alsatian made from an oak tree.”

Martyn said his wood came from a petrified forest near the Black Sea, owned by one of his friends.

He said: “It’s the first time I’ve worked with petrified wood – it’s very valuable.

“I think I’m looking at 
history, especially when I start breaking into it and finding a big hole.

“It is amazing to work with.”

Martyn said he hopes his items may become collectables. He said: “It’s been a bumpy ride, but I think I’m starting to get noticed more.

“The recession has hit pretty bad and luxury things are the last things on people’s minds, but I think things are getting easier.”

Martyn said he had taught himself how to carve.

He said: “We used to make snooker tables for EJ Riley.

“My dad was a designer of furniture so naturally it has just passed down – nobody shows you, you just do it.

“I think it is best to be self-taught because you don’t know your limitations.”

 

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