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She Brings Driftwood To Life
A single piece of driftwood can be beautiful by itself. But for inspired artist Heather Jansch of South Devon, England, the ability to combine many such pieces of wood into dramatic, life-like sculptures has gained her world-wide attention. Her work can now be found from Japan to Australia to Italy.
  The majority of Jansch's unique sculptures have been horses, but she has also created human forms, pigs, piglets, red deer, and more.She finds material to work with on beaches after high tides and storms. By beach combing with a pickup truck, her assistant brings back a regular supply of oak, elm and larch driftwood.
  Finding pieces with just the right size or shape is what's so satisfying about her work. "It's like a 3-dimensional jigsaw puzzle," she relates. Occasionally, Jansch cuts sections of driftwood to fit where needed, and she always has several sculptures in progress at one time. While most of her work is life-size, Jansch has also made sculptures as small as 22 in. high.
  "One needs to give a lot of thought to it and have an understanding of the stresses and strains created by different poses and some idea of the weights involved," she explains. "The structure must not only be self supporting, it must also be stable enough to cope with high winds without falling over. Further, it must be strong enough to withstand being lifted by a crane when being installed."
  The larger sculptures require a steel frame, which she paints with a rust inhibitor and then coats with fiberglass to give a roughened surface. That makes it blend into the sculpture more, and stops the wood from slipping on bare metal. She positions the wood with wire and then screws the pieces together, covering the screw heads with filler and stain.
  Jansch captures the delicate features of horses' legs and hooves by using additional materials. The legs are a combination of wood, steel and fiberglass resin, while the hooves are made from "discarded copper water-heating cylinders".
  "The larger sculptures are intended for outdoor display and are made from hard woods like oak and elm," she says. "They're treated with preservative and I recommend that they be sprayed each spring as one would a garden fence. I can't say exactly how long they'll last but they should certainly outlast me. All the screws are stainless steel."
  Jansch also sells limited edition photographic prints of many of her driftwood sculptures, original drawings, limited edition prints of drawings, and additionally, has created "driftwood bronzes," which perfectly replicate the original driftwood texture, but are virtually indestructible.
  "I could never have dared hope that I would find a medium of such apparently universal appeal; the popularity of my sculpture has exceeded my dreams by miles," she says.
  There's a 3-year waiting list for full size new works and current pricing for those start at $29,360 U.S. and go to $88,084 U.S.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Heather Jansch, Exeter, South Devon, England (ph 011 44 07775 840513; heather @heatherjansch.com; www.heatherjan sch.com).

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2008 - Volume #32, Issue #2