Bjarne Jespersen

Naestved, Denmark

Magic woodcarving is the art of carving a piece of wood into parts that are loose, but cannot be separated. Traditional examples are wooden chains and balls in cages, as seen in such items as Welsh love spoons and European wool winders. My book "Woodcarving Magic" is now available from Fox Chapel Publishing Company. It explains my carving technique as well as the geometric methods I use to develop new models.

The carvings I show at this years exhibition are of a type I call "magic spheres". The "magic" becomes apparent when you manipulate the object and discover that its parts are in fact loose and able to move slightly among each other - a very surprising experience. You will not find anything like them in traditional carving. Nor will you find them in my book, because I wanted to develop the concept further to be the main subject of a second book. These two balls with Escher patterns are my latest and best results in this effort.

Magic Sphere with Escher's Lizards
Magic Sphere with Escher's Lizards
100 x 100 x 100 mm

Escher carved a few wooden balls himself with surface filling patterns carved in relief on their surface. This is a smaller copy of one of them. Unlike Escher's original, however, this is a magic carving in the sense that the lizards are cut loose and are able to move slightly when you manipulate the ball. To achieve this I had to create a hollow inside the ball. I did this through the right eye of each lizard. The eyes were turned loose like conical plugs and glued in place again afterwards.

Magic Sphere with Escher's Ants
Magic Sphere with Escher's Ants
95 x 95 x 95 mm

This ant pattern is one of my favorites among Escher's famous surface filling patterns. Many years ago I realized that it could be modified to cover a sphere with twelve ants. I thought it was a perfect candidate for a "magic sphere". However, the size required by the detailed pattern made it impossible to cut between the animals, unless the ball could be hollow. Thirty years went by before I discover a technique to make an internal hollow through small holes in the surface (the eyes).