Canadian Woodworking

Nature’s inspiration: pierced carving

Blog by Rob Brown

While walking through a local park the other day I noticed a fascinating pattern on a fallen leaf decomposing on the ground.

I’m no leaf expert, but I’m guessing what was happening was the veins of the leaf were still mostly intact, but the flat areas between the veins had broken down and disappeared.

The pattern that was left was quite attractive. Some people would likely think of the natural world at this point, and how the veins in this leaf are integral to the survival of the tree as a whole, which in turn gives many animals a place to live, provides living creatures with oxygen, supplies birds and squirrels with food, and gives humans building material. I, naturally, thought of woodworking. More specifically, pierced carving.

Botanists see decomposing leaves as part of nature, while woodworkers see them as nature’s artwork.

Some woodworking examples

I immediately thought of a few photos and projects we’ve run our pages in the past. First on my list was Jason Klager’s “Pierced Carving” article in our Feb/Mar 2012 issue. He takes readers through the process he used to create a beautiful pair of pierced carvings in a table and cabinet. It was a pattern based on tree branches. You can read all the details here.

Klager inspired me to try my hand at the technique a few years later. I made a box for our “Box Issue” in Oct/Nov 2014. The lid included an inset pierced carving made of African mahogany. The pattern I used was inspired by a Japanese wave pattern. It was an extra challenge because once the pierced carving was made, it was then inset into the box lid and flushed with the curved lid. It was a lot of fun. You can read the article here.

One of my favourites

One of my very favourite makers in the world often includes pierced carving in their work. Maybe I’ll save that for next week’s column, though. For now…any guesses as to who it is? I’ll send the first person with a correct guess a simple tool or accessory. If there are more than three people with the correct answer, their names will go into a hat.

Mother Nature’s Artwork

I found this decomposing leaf on the ground the other day and was immediately struck by its beautiful and intricate pattern.

Klager’s Desk and Box

Two nicely designed and executed pieces made by B.C.’s Jason Klager over a decade ago. Pierced carvings were included in both pieces.

A Closer Look

A pierced carving draws the viewer in as they try to get a closer look. I’m sure it would be almost impossible to keep your hands off these details if you saw the pieces in real life.

A Closer Look

Cover Story

This is the cover from our Oct/Nov 2014 issue that included my box with a pierced carving inset into its curved lid.

Cover Story

Curved, Pierced Carving

A closeup of the wave pattern I used in my carving.

Curved, Pierced Carving
Last modified: December 7, 2023

Rob Brown - [email protected]

Rob is a studio furniture maker and the editor at Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement. Instagram at @RobBrownTeaches


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