Just another day at the beach
So, while out meandering on the beach one day at La Rochelle, I couldn’t believe my eyes – or my luck! Right there in front of me was a stunning sun-and-sea-bleached tree stuck in the sand at low tide. Like any good wood sculptor, I always carry a chainsaw in my boot and the required tools to help me recover such beautiful gifts washed up on the shore. But before I rushed off to get them I walked slowly around, surveying my prize find.
I could instantly identify the type of tree it was just from its roots. In English, this tree is called a London plane – in French, ‘platane de Londres’.
You can see the incredible detail in the roots! This tree could have travelled miles for several years, yet it had still survived the sea’s waves and constant motion, leaving it this beautiful bleached colour that you can see in the photos.
All in a day’s work for a wood craftsman
Now began the careful and documented process of moving this wonderful weathered artefact. As part of my work collecting trees from the beach, initially, I photograph the location and take notes on the forms I see because this can be lost if not done on-site.
Then, I consider the mass of the object. Often, in the excitement of finding such a large piece, it’s easy to forget that the size and weight will be more than one person can lift. And, in the case of this tree, it was much too large to attempt to move it without machinery.
I cut several sections from the tree’s root system. These will be left to dry after cleaning with water to remove the sand. Already, I can see the lamp bases and various forms of sculptures.
The second-largest trunk section of the tree I can transform into stool tables for interior living spaces.
Back home – relaxed and revived
So, by the end of the day the ‘distraction’ has been carefully managed. With a car full of wood and a head buzzing with creativity, this happy wood sculptor returned to his workshop in Savigné. The weekend has been fantastic – in more ways than one! Relaxing by the sea has revived my spirit for the summer. And I’m looking forward to returning to La Rochelle soon and connecting with more talented craftspeople.