Written by Deeya Nambiar
A New Meaning
Washed to the shores, deep in the woods, or near the roadside, when the trees become resilient, composed, meditative, and dead to the world, they start a new journey as a wood art or driftwood. To the world they are indeed the dead wood yet, it is a work of beauty and prized possession for a lover of wood collection.
According to Collins Dictionary, driftwood is wood which has been carried onto the shore by the motion of the sea or a river, or which is still floating on the water. Such woods are adapted for use in interior decoration.
I have grown around creepers, climbers, roots, branches, twigs and driftwood. Anything or any part of a tree, shrub or herb that looks shapely and catches my mother’s eye go into her collection. From North to South, East to West, the pieces of woods have come from all over India.
My mothers’ interest in flower arrangements has often seen the woods find a place in our home. “There is life in wood.” She often says.
It was during the lockdown in India that she found time to clean, relook at her collection, click pictures and share the little anecdotes from her memory lane with me. This contribution is a picture and text assortment from our conversation.
PRESERVING THE WOOD: The dead wood may be infested with termites and other insects since it has been outside for a long time. When planning to bring them home, ensure to treat them to a good wash – immersion in water, cleaning the residual mud and letting it dry in the sun. Once the wood is ready, clear varnish is applied as a protective finish. Also, some fragile pieces are given a coat of black paint for protection.
SELECTING WOOD: The wood has a natural shape. It is the perception that gives a name to “what one sees in the wood.” From tortoise to penguin, most woods have received an identity.
DECORATING WOOD: Wood can be used in various arrangements. They can become a decoration in the home aquarium or enhance a bland corner of the home with bright flowers. From a lampshade to keychain holder, woods can have a defined purpose to its existence.
CREATING DESIRED WOOD ART: Driftwood and wood sculptors work relentlessly to create an art, giving it a new meaning and a name. “I appreciate the artists, but I’m a collector of woods from the Natural setting and believe in its originality. I don’t even use a knife to smoothen the wood to a fine finish. But I do modify the sharp edges and tips that can cause damages while handling it,” has been my mother’s point of view.
Woods do communicate. The dead wood endorses a new birth, transform into driftwood or collectable wood, and it lives long as decorations till it decides to perish on its own. I feel, and to quote my mother, “there is a deeper connection with Earth. A feeling of gratitude.”
All images © Lekha Nayar
Text © Deeya Nambiar
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