Thursday, November 13, 2014
Potato Wood ...?!
I like wood, some of my favorite trees are made of it; so when I was approached to try a new carving material made from potato starch my first thought was: what’s wrong with wood? Now I’m pretty sure there are some fundamentalist “whoodlers” out there who will never try the stuff but I’m attracted to shiny new things as much as the next bird.
The smartest feature of this stuff is that water acts like glue for it. When wet, the surface becomes first slippery, then sticky, and in a matter of 15 minutes there forms a glossy bond that is slightly harder than the material itself. Carving it is a breeze; the light and uniform layers form a grain that is surprisingly strong in all directions.
Called Schnitzstärke; it is dyed with food coloring that can be layered in the production process. Essentially it is edible though it’s not recommended you subsist on it. Remarkably the density can also be manipulated. The batch I used was a little lighter than your average basswood (Linden) which made popping out an idea something akin to doodling in a sketchbook.
It’s a nice material for beginners because it is more forgiving than wood. It’s easier to carve and if you accidentally break something off you’ve got glue right there in your mouth.
As an experienced carver I could see myself building models and maquettes for more complex woodcarvings or larger public art pieces. The speed at which you can carve could allow someone to do live 3D protraits. Perhaps some day there will be speed-whittling contests using it. Stranger things happen.
The company that has started to produce it is Carving Colors (carving-colors.com). It is a new German business, their website is in Deutsch and the product, Schnitzstärke, is available at Amazon in Germany. Maybe some day they can bring you a droneload.