Hello! My name is Maria. I'm 28 years old, and I have lived my entire life in Moscow, Russia. I have been a woodcarver for nearly 5 years now, and although some might call that a long time, I understand that I am only at the beginning of my journey.
For five years I have been developing my individual technique while studying under Shamil Sasykov, Master Woodcarver, creator of the "Tatyanka" woodcarving technique, and founder of the "Tatyanka" International Woodcarving Center in Moscow.
My time with Mr. Sasykov has helped me hone my individual craft on the journey to becoming a Master Woodcarver and a true artist. And while my studies at the International Woodcarving Center have given me a solid theoretical and technical foundation, my skills and technique have long since grown beyond the “Tatyanka” classroom, formed in part by the wishes of my clients and the specifics of their individual orders (see the gallery of my work).
In all of my work I strive to make the wishes and ideas of my clients a reality. The end result is a truly one-of-a-kind piece of hand-carved art.
At the moment, my studio is located in Moscow, Russia. The bright colors, fresh flowers and inspirational photographs that surround me as I work add a vibrancy and energy to the space that warms up even the coldest Russian winter… :)
Each of my pieces is carved from wood that I source from around the world. I have worked extensively with tilia (basswood), rosewood, Caucasian walnut, American walnut and Alder, and I relish the opportunity to experiment with new forms and grains.
The choice of wood for each project, whether hard, soft or even fine, is individual to that project and is dependent on the demands of the design and the wishes of the client.
The tools of my trade are my chisels, my hands and the inspiration I get from all around me.
Each of my pieces is hand-carved from blocks of solid wood. Using only my chisels, I whittle down each block to the needed size and shape.
The chisels I use are produced by the Tatyanka Woodcarving Center in Moscow. They are specially designed for working with soft woods. One of the distinctive features of working with soft woods is the absence of mallets or hammers. Because I use only the strength of my own hands I am able to carve incredibly detailed and precise designs and ornamentation.
A piece in the "Tatyanka" style
The "Tatyanka" technique
As briefly mentioned, the "Tatyanka" artistic woodcarving style and technique was developed by Master Woodcarver Shamil Sasykov in the 1970s and 1980s. In December 1990 it was recognized and officially trademarked as a unique woodcarving style and technique in the former Soviet Union.
At its foundation, "Tatyanka" is a technique for carving natural plant and floral ornamentation. The technique's versatility allows such ornamentation to be the base of a limitless variety of different artistic pieces, from jewelry boxes, to picture frames, to wall clocks, and beyond.
Probably the most attractive aspect of the "Tatyanka" style, however, is its closeness to nature; to natural beauty. The woodcarver who uses "Tatyanka" is drawn, by necessity, into a close examination of and association with natural plant life. Here woodcarving blends with the emotional-perceptive sphere. By studying the intricate details of every leaf, bud and blossom, the artist learns to approach nature differently; to dig down to a plant's very essence and connect with it in new and sometimes surprising ways.
The plants that I work with have individual associations that bring out specific emotions. For me, grape leaves embody a unique strength and energy, while violets possess a melancholy of sorts. Sketching the peddles of a rose, I am reminded in a strange way of the human heart. It is this connection to nature and to the natural wood that is central to my work.
Finishing the leaves of a Gerber Daisy with Danish Oil
The finishing touches
By using an airbrush to add color and finishing to my pieces, I can get the precise color, shade and softness desired by my clients.
If, on the other hand, you prefer the natural beauty of the wood, then there is no need to add any additional color and the piece can be given a simple stain or lacquered finish.
Of course, every piece must be given a finishing coat to protect it from the elements (moisture, light, etc.). Depending on the desired effect – a satin finish or a glossy sheen, for example – I use specialized oils, waxes and lacquers. For the Gerber Daisy necklace pictured here I used an oil with UV-filters that will protect the piece from the sun while bringing out the deeper colors of the natural wood grain.
From 24 June to 4 July 2016 I participated in the International Handicraft Exhibition in Lisbon, Portugal. 40 countries took part in the exhibition that year, presenting their schools, master craftsmen and displaying national handmade works of art. I participated in the exhibition as a member of the "Tatyanka" International Woodcarving Center from Moscow, Russia.
In August 2016 I was invited to put on a mini-exhibition of my work in Minneapolis, MN, USA.