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Mother Nature's "Paint" as the Primary Surface
Posted 21 Feb 2013, by Don
Seldom does one find skillfully made, non-utilitarian works of folk art that were never painted, stained, or resin coated (varnish, shellac, lacquer), in which the wood itself, and the patina it developed over the years, is the first and only surface.  I am fortunate to have acquired two such items recently:  a carved horse, ca. early to mid-19th century, and a carved soaring eagle, ca. late 19th century.  Both are exceptionally well sculpted and exhibit rich, nut brown patina developed by oxidation, and exposure to handling and airborne particles, often from the hearth fire.  The vast majority of antiques have been refinished, or had their surfaces altered, often in the owners' misguided desire to see the underlying wood better, or to clean the surface.  Once these surfaces were refinished, newly painted, or stained, the piece can never be returned to its original state, and is like a 'book without its cover'.  Bare wood patination that is the only surface, like that seen on the eagle and the horse, are prized and scarce.  Despite the great carving, a good deal of the on-going value of these pieces is in their naturally patinated surfaces.  Check out the larger photos of these pieces in the 'antiques' area of my website, their surfaces are wonderful.