Sculpted illusions brought to reality

For the ‘Mushrooms’ series, a wood burner is used to create texture underneath the caps.

Ever seen a teapot with sculpted legs? A completely wooden carved vessel that looks sprouted, but isn’t? American designer Rebecca DeGroot’s unique wood carvings will answer these questions, and tell us why her designs are unique!

Best known for her creative carvings and sculpting abilities, Rebecca has been a wood turner since she was tall enough to reach the lathe. She began woodworking with  her father at a very young age  and continued to refine her skills  through college.

Six years after graduating with a bachelor’s degree in art education and sculpture and functional art, she now divides her time between her career as an art educator at MacArthur Senior High School, Greater Houston, and her passion for woodworking.

Rebecca finds her inspiration in various living things and objects that she interacts with regularly. Simple things like insects or even coffee cups can send her scrambling for her notepad to transform her imagination into possible projects.

The mushrooms design begins with turning a simple mushroom cap, prepared for pyrography texture, followed by turning a body ready to be carved. Each mushroom has at least three turned legs, which are cut apart.

This is re-assembled by using spline joinery, into new forms. Once the lathe work is finished, a body is carved in order to create a curved neck.

A wood burner is used to create texture underneath the cap, drill and counter-sink holes in the body for the legs. Finally, after fixing all the individual pieces that have been carved, shaped, burned and sanded, the finished piece is presented.

‘Steep and Cauldron’ was Rebecca’s winning project, consisting of two wooden turned vessels made of maple burl, maple, black dye and satin finish. They looked like tea pots that have sprouted working legs.

Explaining the project Rebecca says these were pieces she completed while trapped in her house during the Covid-19 quarantine.

The bodies are turned from maple burl, and the legs and other details were carved from maple and dyed black. Similarly, the gnomes were designed during the 2020 lockdown, and specially made for Christmas decorations.

For the earrings, Rebecca used resin and burl wood and cast her own blanks in her two-car garage studio space. She loves experimenting with colours and pigments to create new looks to pair with the variety of burl material that she collects.

 The three-piece, thin-stemmed goblet incorporates multiple pieces of contrasting wood. In this process, the proportions, wood combinations and design opportunities are endless for creating a unique goblet.



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