llaughy at ninthwavedesigns dot com
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I am a traditional wood carver with a strong background in design and painting, living in central New Hampshire. I have been carving for the past fifteen years after spending twenty years as a designer and illustrator. It wasn’t until my creative work became focused on wood carving that I realized how much of my earlier two-dimensional work had been conceptualized in relief. I feel now that the years of designing, drawing, and painting on paper were actually spent in preparation for working in wood, even though that was never part of my original plan. It has been a slow, steady, and seamless transition in my creative process between these two mediums, with each supporting the other.
My wood carving process primarily involves working with traditional hand tools; my use of power tools is minimal. I use a band saw or router to cut the initial shape of the wood but all of the carving work is completed using hand tools. This method creates a carving that is finished from the tool, without any sanding, leaving a subtle rippled texture on the surface. I prefer this quiet, unplugged method of wood working, creating a finished piece that reflects the time and contemplation invested in creating it.
My creative work is primarily influenced by the past – early medieval Irish manuscripts, the Stave Churches of Norway, Viking art, Renaissance geometry, alchemical engravings, and particularly how nature is represented in these historic styles. I look backward to find symbols and myths – essential elements from our collected human psyche – to employ as filters for my own personal experiences. I have also developed an invented runic alphabet to use as a way to add the texture of language and hidden meaning to my work.
Currently my work incorporates concepts of guardians, talismans, shields and vessels as forms to explore my inner concerns. I use traditional craft methods and historical themes in my work, but I approach this process with my own contemporary vision. Rather than reproducing traditional wood carving designs that have been used for centuries in architecture and furniture, I look to history for the context to create carvings that reflect personal ideas and emotional processes. I believe this is how traditions are kept alive; by taking the old ways and filling them with our own lives. In this way the tradition remains but it is carried forward through my personal expression of it.