Bending Compressed Wood

In the same building complex that I visited Bowman Hot Glass we found another sculptor, Rick Maxwell that works mainly in wood.

He had some beautiful bent wood work in progress – large pieces that had been bent around forms and were in the process of being finished. I took a close look, expecting to see laminations and was surprised to see that the wood was solid. I asked the sculptor about his technique and he explained that these were done with a special product, compressed wood.

A process takes wood and compresses it lengthwise under extreme force. This will reduce a ten foot board down to about eight feet – but more importantly, disturb the fibers in such a way as to make the wood extremely flexible.

It can be used for extreme wood bending.

Sources:
Pure Timber LLC
Compwood Products

He said it comes wrapped in plastic and that once the wrapping is removed the piece is bent using forms and clamps. Then it is allowed to dry and the wood takes the shape in a permanent basis.

I was fascinated by this process and impressed by his sculptures – it was really cool to visit his studio and talk with him.

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Clark Maxwell. (click to enlarge)

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Clark Maxwell.
(click to enlarge)

He uses large pieces to make the big sculptures and then makes small ones out of the leftover trimmings (you can see those hanging on the wall behind the bent wood). Scrap left over from the small sculptures is burned to charcoal and he uses those for drawings, like the one on the left. He said, “I used to be cheap, but now I’m sustainable.”

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Rick Maxwell.  (click to enlarge)

Bent wood sculpture in progress, by Rick Maxwell.
(click to enlarge)

This piece has been dyed and coated with polyurethane – almost ready to go. The artist said he has a recent piece hanging in the Omni – I need to stop by and see it.

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